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Full text of "Curious creatures in zoology; with 130 illus. throughout the text"

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"The wicked borrowcHi 
and returnerti not again." 



PUBLISHER'S NOTE. 

Two hundred and ten copies of this Work printed on superfine 
Royal 8vo paper. Each copy numbered. " Type distributed. 



CURIOUS 
/ CREATURES 

IN 

ZOOLOGY 




LONDON 
JOHN C. NIMMO 

1 4, KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND 
1890 



PREFACE. 



" TRAVELLERS see strange things," more especially when 
their writing about, or delineation of, them is not put 
under the microscope of modern scientific examination. 
Our ancestors were content with what was given them, 
and being, as a rule, a stay-at-home race, they could 
not confute the stories they read in books. That age 
of faith must have had its comforts, for no man could 
deny the truth of what he was told. But now that 
modern travel has subdued the globe, and inquisitive 
strangers have poked their noses into every portion of 
the world, " the old order changeth, giving place to 
new," and, gradually, the old stories are forgotten. 

It is to rescue some of them from the oblivion into 
which they were fast falling, that I have written, or 
compiled, this book. I say compiled it, for I am fonder 
of letting old authors tell their stories in their old- 
fashioned language, than to paraphrase it, and usurp 
the credit of their writings, as is too much the mode 
now-a-days. 



2043624 



vi P REPACK. 

It is not given to every one to be able to consult the 
old Naturalists ; and, besides, most of them are written 
in Latin, and to read them through is partly unprofit- 
able work, as they copy so largely one from another. 
But, for the general reader, selections can be made, and, 
if assisted by accurate reproductions of the very quaint 
wood engravings, a book may be produced which, I 
venture to think, will not prove tiring, even to a super- 
ficial reader. 

Perhaps the greatest wonders of the creation, and 
the strangest forms of being, have been met with in the 
sea ; and as people who only occasionally saw them 
were not draughtsmen, but had to describe the monsters 
they had seen on their return to land, their effigies came 
to be exceedingly marvellous, and unlike the originals. 
The Northern Ocean, especially, was their abode, and, 
among the Northern nations, tales of Kraken, Sea-Ser- 
pents, Whirlpools, Mermen, &c., &c., lingered long after 
they were received with doubt by other nations ; but 
perhaps the most credulous times were the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, when no travellers' tales seem 
too gross for belief, as can well be seen in the extreme 
popularity, throughout all Europe, of the " Voyages and 
Travels of Sir John Maundeville," who, though he may 
be a myth, and his so-called writings a compilation, 
yet that compilation represented the sum of knowledge, 
both of Geography, and Natural History, of countries 
not European, that was attainable in the first half of 
the fourteenth century. 

All the old Naturalists copied from one another, and 



PREFACE. vii 

thus compiled their writings. Pliny took from Aristotle, 
others quote Pliny, and so on ; but it was reserved 
for the age of printing to render their writings available 
to the many, as well as to represent the creatures they 
describe by pictures (" the books of the unlearned "), 
which add so much piquancy to the text. 

Mine is not a learned disquisition. It is simply a 
collection of zoological curiosities, put together to suit 
the popular taste of to-day, and as such only should 
it be critically judged. 

JOHN ASHTON. 





CONTENTS. 





PAGE 




PAGE 


INTRODUCTORY 


1 


THE GORGON 


83 


AMAZONS 


2 3 


THE UNICORN 


87 


PYGMIES 


. 26 


THE RHINOCEROS . 


97 


GIANTS 


32 


THE GULO . 


101 


EARLY MEN . 


38 


THE BEAR . 


I0 5 


WILD MEN . 


44 


THE FOX 


125 


HAIRY MEN . 


47 


THE WOLF . 


134 


THE OURAN OUTAN 


5i 


WERE-WOLVES 


140 


SATYRS 


55 


THE ANTELOPE . 


MS 


THE SPHYNX 


61 


THE HORSE . 


146 


APES . 


65 


THE MIMICK DOG 


15 


ANIMAL LORE 


. 67 


THE CAT 


J 54 


THE MANTICORA . 


7i 


THE LION . 


,56 


THE LAMIA . 


74 


THE LEONTOPHONUS 




THE CENTAUR 


. 78 


PEGASUS CROCOTTA 

b 


i57 



THE LEUCROCOTTA THE 
EALE CATTLE FEED 
ING BACKWARDS 
ANIMAL MEDICINE 
THE SU 

THE LAMB-TREE . 
THE CHIMERA 

THE HARPY AND SIREN 171 
THE BARNACLE GOOSE 
REMARKABLE EGG 
MOON WOMAN 
THE GRIFFIN 
THE PH(EN1X 
THE SWALLOW 
THE MARTLET, AND FOOT- 
LESS BIRDS . 
SNOW BIRDS 
THE SWAN . 

THE ALLE, ALLE . 

THE HOOPOE AND LAI 
WING 

THE OSTRICH 

THE HALCYON 

THE PELICAN 

THE TROCHILUS . 

WOOLLY HENS 



CONTENTS. 




FACE 




I AGI. 


E 


TWO-HEADED WILD 




)- 


GEESE . 


203 


'59 


FOUR-FOOTED DUCK 


20 3 


. 160 


FISH .... 


206 


'63 


MERMEN 


206 


165 


WHALES 


214 


170 


THE SEA-MOUSE . 


234 


M 171 


THE SEA-HARE . 


234 


174 


THE SEA-PIG 


235 


' 179 


THE WALRUS 


235 


. 1 80 


THE ZIPHIUS 


238 


ISO 


THE SAW FISH 


239 


I8 3 


THE ORCA . 


239 


. 186 


THE DOLPHIN 


242 


T- 


THE NARWHAL 


244 


. I8 9 


THE SWAMFISCK . 


245 


191 


THE SAHAB . 


247 


193 


THE CIRCHOS 


247 


194 


THE REMORA 


253 


P- 


THE DOG-FISH AND RAY 


2 55 


196 


THE SEA DRAGON 


256 


'97 


THE STING RAY . 


2 5 6 


199 


SENSES OF FISHES 


258 


. 200 


ZOOPHYTES . 


259 


201 


SPONGES 


260 


202 


THF. KRAKEN 


26l 



CONTENTS. 





PAGE 




PAGE 


CRAYFISH AND CRABS . 


267 


THE SALAMANDER 


3 2 3 


THE SEA-SERPENT 


268 


THE TOAD . 


326 


SERPENTS . 


2 7 8 


THE LEECH . 


329 


WORMES AND DRAGONS 


293 


THE SCORPION 


330 


THE CROCODILE . 


3" 


THE ANT 


332 


THE BASILISK AND 




THE BEE 


332 


COCKATRICE . 


3 1 ? 


THE HORNET 


333 


INDEX 






33 5 





CURIOUS CREATURES. 



us commence our researches into curious 
Zoology with the noblest of created beings, 
Man ; and, if we may believe Darwin, he 
must have gone through many phases, and 
gradual mutations, before he arrived at his 
present proud position of Master and Conqueror of the 
World. 

This philosopher does not assign a high place in the 
animal creation to proud man's protogenitor, and we 
ought almost to feel thankful to him for not going further 
back. He begins with man as an Ascidian, which is the 
lowest form of anything of a vertebrate character, with 
which we are acquainted ; and he says thus, in his 
" Descent of Man " : 

" The most ancient progenitors in the kingdom of the 
Vertebrata, at which we are able to obtain an obscure 
glance, apparently consisted of a group of marine animals, 
resembling the larvae of existing Ascidians. These 
animals probably gave rise to a group of fishes, as lowly 
organised as the lancelet ; and from these the Ganoids, 
and other fishes like the Lepidosiren, must have been 
developed. From such fish a very small advance would 
carry us on to the amphibians. We see that birds and 
reptiles were once intimately connected together; and 



t CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the Monotremata now, in a slight degree, connect 
mammals with reptiles. But no one can, at present, 
say by what line of descent the three higher, and re- 
lated classes namely, mammals, birds, and reptiles, 
were derived from either of the two lower vertebrate 
classes, namely, amphibians, and fishes. In the class of 
mammals the steps are not difficult to conceive which led 
from the ancient Monotremata to the ancient Marsupials ; 
and from these to the early progenitors of the placental 
mammals. We may thus ascend to the Lemuridee ; and 
the interval is not wide from these to the Simiadae. 
The Simiadae then branched off into two great stems, 
the New World, and Old World monkeys; and from 
the latter, at a remote period, Man, the wonder and 
glory of the Universe, proceeded." 

"We have thus far endeavoured rudely to trace the 
genealogy of the Vertebrata, by the aid of their mutual 
affinities. We will now look to man as he exists ; and 
we shall, I think, be able partially to restore during 
successive periods, but not in order of time, the structure 
of our early progenitors. This can be effected by means 
of the rudiments which man still retains, by the characters 
which occasionally make their appearance in him through 
reversion, and by the aid of morphology and embryology. 
The various facts to which I shall here allude, have 
been given in the previous chapters. The early pro- 
genitors of man were no doubt once covered with hair, 
both sexes having beards ; their ears were pointed and 
capable of movement ; and their bodies were provided 
with a tail, having the proper muscles. Their limbs and 
bodies were also acted on by many muscles, which now 
only occasionally reappear, but are normally present in 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 3 

the Quadrumana. . . . The foot, judging from the great 
toe in the foetus, was then prehensile ; and our pro- 
genitors, no doubt, were arboreal in their habits, fre- 
quenting some warm, forest-clad land. The males were 
provided with great canine teeth, which served them as 
formidable weapons." 

In fact, as Mortimer Collins satirically, yet amusingly, 
wrote : 

" There was an APE, in the days that were earlier ; 
Centuries passed, and his hair became curlier, 
Centuries more gave a thumb to his wrist, 
Then he was MAN, and a POSITIVIST." 

The accompanying illustration, which seems to embody 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 



all the requirements of Darwin, as representing our 
maternal progenitor, is from an old book by Joannes 
Zahn, published in 1696 and there figures as " Ourani 
Outains." 

Darwin says that the men of the period wore tails, 

and if they were no 
longer than that in 
this illustration 
(which is copied 
from the same 
book), they can 
hardly be said to be 
unbecoming still 
that is a matter for 
taste they are cer- 
tainly more graceful 
than if they had 
been rat - like, or 
like a greyhound, 
or toy terrier. 
Many old authors 
speak of tailed men 
in Borneo and Java, 
and not only were 
men so adorned, 
but women. Peter 
Martyr says that in 
a region called In- 
zaganin, there is a tailed race these laboured under 
the difficulty of being unable to move them like animals 
but as he observes, they were stiff like those of fishes 
and crocodiles so much so, that when they wanted to 
sit down, they had to use seats with holes in them. 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 5 

Ptolemy and Ctesias speak of them, and Pliny says 
there were men in Ceylon who had long hairy tails, and 
were of remarkable swiftness of foot. Marco Polo tells 
us : " Now you must know that in this kingdom of 
Lambri l there are men with tails ; these tails are of 
a palm in length, and have no hair on them. These 
people live in the mountains, and are a kind of wild 
men. Their tails are about the thickness of a dog's." 
Many modern travellers have heard of hairy and tailed 
people in the Malay Archipelago, and Mr. St. John, 
writing of Borneo, says that he met with a trader who 
had seen and felt the tails of a race which inhabited the 
north-east coast of the island. These tails were about 
four inches long, and so stiff that they had to use per- 
forated seats. The Chinese also declare that in the 
mountains above Canton there is a race of tailed men. 
M. de Couret wrote about the Niam Niams, tailed men, 
who, he says, are living in Abyssinia or Nubia, having 
tails at least two inches long. We all know the old 
Lord Monboddo's theory that mankind had originally 
tails nay, he went further, and said that some were 
born with them now a fact which will be partially borne 
out by any military medical inspecting officer, who in the 
course of his practice has met with men whose " os 
coccygis" has been prolonged, so as to form a pseudo 
tail, which would unfit the man for the cavalry, although 
he would still be efficient as an infantry soldier. 

Here is a very fine picture from a fresco at Pompeii 
representing tailed men, or, maybe, aesthetic young 
Fauns, treading out the vintage. 

But tailed men are as nothing, compared to the won- 
derful beings that peopled the earth in bygone times. 

1 Supposed to be Sumatra. 



6 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

It seems a pity that there are none of them now living, 
and that, consequent upon never having seen them, we 
are apt to imagine that they never existed, but were 
simply the creatures of the writer's brain. They were 
articles of belief until comparatively recent times, and 







were familiar in Queen Elizabeth's time, as we learn from 
Othello's defence of himself (Act i. sc. 3) : 

" And of the Cannibals that each other eat, 
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders." 

They were thoroughly believed in, a century or two 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 7 

previously, in connection with Geography, and, in the 
" Mappa Mundi " (one of the earliest preserved English 
maps), now in Hereford Cathedral, which dates from the 
very early part of the fourteenth century, nearly the whole 
of the fanciful men hereafter mentioned are pourtrayed. 

Sluper, who wrote in 1572, gives us the accompanying 
picture of a Cyclope, with the following remarks : 

" De Polipheme & de Ciclopiens 
Tout mention Poetes anciens : 
On dit encor que ce lignage dure 
Auec vn ceil selon ceste figure." 




Pliny places the Cyclopes " in the very centre of the 



8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

earth, in Italy and Sicily ; " and very likely there they 
might have existed, if we can bring ourselves to believe 
the very plausible explanation that they were miners, 
whose lanthorn, or candle, stuck in cap, was their one 
eye. At all events we may consider Sluper's picture as 
somewhat of a fancy portrait. 

Among the Scythians, inhabiting the country beyond 
the Palus Maeotis, was a tribe which Herodotus (although 
he has been christened " The father of lies ") did not 
believe in, nor indeed in any one-eyed men, but Pliny, 
living some 500 years after him, tells afresh the old 
story respecting these wonderful human beings. " In the 
vicinity also of those who dwell in the northern regions, 
and not far from the spot from which the north wind 
arises, and the place which is called its cave, and is 
known by the name of Geskleithron, 1 the Arimaspi are 
said to exist, a nation remarkable for having but one 
eye, and that placed in the middle of the forehead. This 
race is said to carry on a perpetual warfare with the 
Griffins, 2 a kind of monster, with wings, as they are 
commonly represented, for the gold which they dig out 
of the mines, and which these wild beasts retain, and 
keep watch over with a singular degree of cupidity, 
while the Arimaspi are equally desirous to get possession 
of it." 

Milton mentions this tribe in " Paradise Lost," Book 2. 
" As when a Gryphon through the wilderness, 
With winged course, o'er hill, or mossy dale, 
Pursues the Arimaspian, who, by stealth, 
Had from his wakeful custody purloin'd 
The guarded gold." 

1 rnt K\ei6pov, meaning the limit or boundary of the earth. 
* The Gryphon must not be confounded with the Griffin, as will be seen 
later on. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 9 

But there seems every probability that the story of 
the Gryphon was invented by the goldfinders, in order 
to deter people from coming near them, and interfering 
with their livelihood. There were, however, smaller 
Arimaspians, which probably the Gryphons did not heed, 
for Pliny tells us about the little thieves of mice. " In 
gold mines, too, their stomachs are opened for this pur- 
pose, and some of the metal is always to be found there, 
which they have pilfered, so great a delight do they take in 
stealing !" Livy, also, twice mentions mice gnawing gold. 




There were Anthropophagi cannibals as there are 
now, but, of course, they then lacked the luxury of cold 
missionary and there were, besides, many wonderful 
beings. " Beyond the other Scythian Anthropophagi, 
there is a country called Abarimon, situate in a certain 
great valley of Mount Imaus (the Himalayas), the in- 
habitants of which are a savage race, whose feet are 
turned backwards, relatively to their legs ; they possess 
wonderful velocity, and wander about indiscriminately 



,0 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

with the wild beasts. We learn from Bceton, whose 
duty it was to take the measurements of the routes 
of Alexander the Great, that this people cannot breathe 
in any climate except their own, for which reason it is 
impossible to take them before any of the neighbouring 
kings ; nor could any of them be brought before 
Alexander himself. 

The Anthropophagi, whom we have previously men- 
tioned as dwelling ten days' journey beyond the Borys- 
thenes (the Dneiper), according to the account of 
Isogonus of Nicaea, were in the habit of drinking out 
of human skulls, and placing the scalps, with the hair 
attached, upon their breasts, like so many napkins. 
The same author relates that there is, in Albania, a 
certain race of men, whose eyes are of a sea-green 
colour, and who have white hair from their earliest 
childhood (sl/binos), and that these people see better 
in the night than in the day. He states also that the 
Sauromatae, who dwell ten days' journey beyond the 
Borysthenes, only take food every other day. 

Crates of Pergamus relates, that there formerly 
existed in the vicinity of Parium, in the Hellespont 
(Camanar, a toivn of Asia Minor), a race of men whom 
he calls Ophiogenes, and that by their touch they were 
able to cure those who had been stung by serpents, 
extracting the poison by the mere imposition of the 
hand. Varro tells us, that there are still a few indi- 
viduals in that district, whose saliva effectually cures 
the stings of serpents. The same, too, was the case 
with the tribe of the Psylli, in Africa, according to the 
account of Agatharcides ; these people received their 
name from Psyllus, one of their kings, whose tomb is 
in existence, in the district of the Greater Syrtes 



CURIOUS CREATURES. n 

(Gulf of Sidra). In the bodies of these people, there 
was, by nature, a certain kind of poison, which was 
fatal to serpents, and the odour of which overpowered 
them with torpor ; with them it was a custom to 
expose children, immediately after their birth, to the 
fiercest serpents, and in this manner to make proof of 
the fidelity of their wives ; the serpents not being 
repelled by such children as were the offspring of 
adultery. This nation, however, was almost entirely 
extirpated by the slaughter made of them, by the 
Nasamones, who now occupy their territory. This 
race, however, still survives in a few persons, who are 
descendants of those who either took to flight, or else 
were absent on the occasion of the battle. The Marsi, in 
Italy, are still in possession of the same power, for which, 
it is said, they are indebted to their origin from the 
son of Circe, from whom they acquired it as a natural 
quality. But the fact is, that all men possess, in their 
bodies, a poison which acts upon serpents, and the 
human saliva, it is said, makes them take to flight, as 
though they had been touched with boiling water. The 
same substance, it is said, destroys them the moment 
it enters their throat, and more particularly so, if it 
should be the saliva of a man who is fasting. 

Above the Nasamones (living near the Gulf of Sidrd), 
and the Machlyae, who border upon them, are found, as 
we learn from Calliphanes, the nation of the Androgyni, 
a people who unite the two sexes in the same indivi- 
dual, and alternately perform the functions of each. 
Aristotle also states, that their right breast is that of 
a male, the left that of a female. 

Isigonus and Nymphodorus inform us that there are, 
in Africa, certain families of enchanters, who, by means 



12 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

of their charms, in form of commendations, can cause 
cattle to perish, trees to wither, and infants to die. 
Isigonus adds, that there are, among the Triballi, and 
the Illyrii, some persons of this description, who, also, 
have the power of fascination with the eyes, and can 
even kill those on whom they fix their gaze for any 
length of time, more especially if their look denotes 
anger : the age of puberty is said to be particularly 
obnoxious to the malign influence of such persons. 

A still more remarkable circumstance is, the fact that 
these persons have two pupils in each eye. Apollonides 
says, that there are certain females of this description in 
Scythia, who are known as Bythiae, and Phylarcus states 
that a tribe of the Thibii in Pontus, and many other per- 
sons as well, have a double pupil in one eye, and in the 
other the figure of a horse. He also remarks, that the 
bodies of these persons will not sink in water, even 
though weighed down by their garments. Damon gives 
an account of a race of people, not very much unlike 
them, the Pharnaces of ./Ethiopia, whose perspiration is 
productive of consumption to the body of every person 
that it touches. Cicero also, one of our own writers, 
makes the remark, that the glance of all women who have 
a double pupil is noxious. 

To this extent, then, has nature, when she pro- 
duced in man, in common with the wild beasts, a taste 
for human flesh, thought fit to produce poisons as well 
in every part of his body, and in the eyes of some 
persons, taking care that there shall be no evil influence 
in existence, which was not to be found in the human 
body. Not far from Rome, in the territory of the 
Falisci, a few families are found, who are known by the 
name of Hirpi. These people perform a yearly sacrifice 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 13 

to Apollo, on Mount Soracte, on which occasion they 
walk over a burning pile of wood, without being scorched 
even. On this account, by virtue of a decree of the 
Senate, they are always exempted from military service, 
and from all other public duties. 

Some individuals, again, are born with certain parts 
of the body endowed with properties of a marvellous 
nature. Such was the case with King Pyrrhus, the 
great toe of whose right foot cured diseases of the spleen, 
merely by touching the patient. We are informed that 
this toe could not be reduced to ashes together with the 
other portions of his body ; upon which it was placed 
in a temple. 

India and the region of Ethiopia, more especially, 
abounds in wonders. In India the largest of animals 
are produced ; their dogs, for instance, are much bigger 
than those of any other country. The trees, too, are 
said to be of such vast height that it is impossible to 
send an arrow over them. This is the result of the 
singular fertility of the soil, the equable temperature of 
the atmosphere, and the abundance of water ; which, if 
we are to believe what is said, are such, that a single 
fig tree (the banyan tree) is capable of affording shelter 
to a whole troop of horse. The reeds here (bamboos) 
are of such enormous length, that each portion of them, 
between the joints, forms a tube, of which a boat is 
made that is capable of holding three men. It is a well- 
known fact, that many of the people here are more than 
five cubits in height. 1 These people never expectorate, 
are subject to no pains, either in the head, the teeth, 
and the eyes, and, rarely, in any other parts of the body ; 

1 The Roman cubit was eighteen inches, so that these men were nearly 
eight feet high. 



i 4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

so well is the heat of the sun calculated to strengthen 
the constitution. . . . According to the account of 
Megasthenes, dwelling upon a mountain called Nulo, 
there is a race of men who have their feet turned back- 
wards, with eight toes on each foot. 

On many of the mountains again, there is a tribe of 
men who have the heads of dogs, and clothe themselves 
with the skins of wild beasts. Instead of speaking, they 
bark ; and, furnished with claws, they live by hunting, 
and catching birds. According to the story, as given 
by Ctesias, the number of these people is more than a 
hundred and twenty thousand ; and the same author tells 
us that there is a certain race in India, of which the 
females are pregnant once only in the course of their 
lives, and that the hair of the children becomes white the 
instant they are born. He speaks also of another race 
of men who are known as Monocoli, 1 who have only one 
leg, but are able to leap with surprising agility. The 
same people are also called Sciapodae, 2 because they are 
in the habit of lying on their backs, during the time of 
extreme heat, and protect themselves from the sun by 
the shade of their feet. These people, he says, dwell 
not very far from the Troglodytae (dwellers in caves) ; to 
the west of whom again there is a tribe who are without 
necks, and have eyes in their shoulders. 8 

Among the mountainous districts of the eastern parts 
of India, in what is called the country of the Catharcludi, 
we find the Satyr, an animal of extraordinary swiftness. 
These go sometimes on four feet, and sometimes walk 
erect ; they have also the features of a human being. 
On account of their swiftness, these creatures are never 

1 From &v& TOU fiOfov KU\OV, ' ' from having but one leg. " 
* From 2ctaToOt, " making a shadow with his foot." 
3 See illustration, p. 9. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 15 

to be caught, except that they are aged, or sickly. 
Tauron gives the name of Choromandae to a nation which 
dwells in the woods, and have no proper voice. These 
people screech in a frightful manner; their bodies are 
covered with hair, their eyes are of a sea-green colour, 
and their teeth like those of a dog. Eudoxus tells us, 
that in the southern parts of India, the men have feet 
a cubit in length, while the women are so remarkably 
small that they are called Struthpodes. 1 

Megasthenes places among the Nomades of India, a 
people who are called Scyritae. These have merely holes 
in their faces instead of nostrils, and flexible feet, like 
the body of the serpent. At the very extremity of 
India, on the eastern side, near the source of the river 
Ganges, there is the nation of the Astomi, a people who 
have no mouths ; their bodies are rough and hairy, and 
they cover themselves with a down 2 plucked from the 
leaves of trees. These people subsist only by breathing, 
and by the odours which they inhale through the nostrils. 
They support themselves neither upon meat nor drink ; 
when they go upon a long journey they only carry with 
them various odoriferous roots and flowers, and wild 
apples, that they may not be without something to smell 
at. But an odour, which is a little more powerful than 
usual, easily destroys them. . . . 

Isogonus informs us that the Cyrni, a people of India, 
live to their four-hundredth year ; and he is of opinion 
that the same is the case also with the ^Ethiopian 
Macrobii, 3 the Seree, and the inhabitants of Mount 
Athos. In the case of these last, it is supposed to be 

1 Sparrow footed, from 0rpoC0os, a sparrow. 

2 Probably cotton. 

3 Or long livers, from /ta*pdj, "long," and /3foj, "life." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



owing to the flesh of vipers, which they use as food ; in 
consequence of which they are free also from all noxious 
animals, both in their hair and their garments. 

According to Onesicritus, in those parts of India 
where there is no shadow, the men attain the height of 
five cubits and two palms, 1 and 
their life is prolonged to one hun- 
dred and thirty years ; they die 
without any symptoms of old age, 
and just as if they were in the 
middle period of life. Pergannes 
calls the Indians, whose age exceeds 
one hundred years, by the name of 
>Gymnetae ; 2 but not a few authors 
style them Macrobii. Ctesias men- 
tions a tribe of them, known by 
the name of Pandore, whose locality 
is in the valleys, and who live to 
their two- hundredth year; their 
hair is white in youth, and becomes black in old age. 
On the other hand, there are some people joining up to 
the country of the Macrobii, who never live beyond their 
fortieth year, and their females have children once only 
during their lives. This circumstance is also mentioned 
by Agatharchides, who states, in addition, that they live 
on locusts, and are very swift of foot. Clitarchus and 
Megasthenes give these people the name of Mandi, and 
enumerate as many as three hundred villages which belong 
to them. Their women are capable of bearing children 
in the seventh year of their age, and become old at forty. 
Artcmidorus states that in the island of Taprobane 




1 A palm was three inches, so that these men would be eight feet high. 
5 From rV/iM/TTjT, one who takes much bodily exercise. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 17 

(Ceylon) life is prolonged to an extreme length, while 
at the same time, the body is exempt from weakness. 
Among the Calingae, a nation also of India, the women 
conceive at five years of age, and do not live beyond 
their eighth year. In other places again, there are men 
born with long hairy tails, and of remarkable swiftness 
of foot ; while there are others that have ears so large 
as to cover the whole body. 

Crates of Pergamus states, that the Troglodytae, who 
dwell beyond Ethiopia, are able to outrun the horse ; and 
that a tribe of the ^Ethiopians, who are known as the 
Syrbotse, exceed eight cubits in height (twelve feet), 
There is a tribe of ^Ethiopian Nomades dwelling on the 
banks of the river Astragus, towards the north, and 
about twenty days' journey from the ocean. These 
people are called Menismini ; they live on the milk of 
the animal which we call cynocephalus (baboon), and 
rear large flocks of these creatures, taking care to kill 
the males, except such as they may preserve for the 
purposes of breeding. In the deserts of Africa, men 
are frequently seen to all appearance, and then vanish 
in an instant." 1 

It may be said that these descriptions of men are 
only the belief about the time of the Christian era, when 
Pliny lived but it was the faith of centuries, and we 
find, 1 200 years after Pliny died, Sir John Mandeville 
confirming his statements, and, as before stated, these 
wondrous creatures were given in illustrations, both 
in the Mappa Mundi, and in early printed books. 
Mandeville writes : " Many divers countreys & kingdoms 
are in Inde, and it is called Inde, of a river that runneth 
through it, which is called Inde also, and there are 

1 Mirage. 



i8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

many precious stones in that river Inde. And in that 
ryver men finde Eles of xxx foote long, & men y l 
dwell nere that river are of evill colour, yelowe & 
grene. . . . 

"Then there is another yle that men call Dodyn, & 
it is a great yle. In this yle are maner diverse of men 
y l have evyll maners, for the father eateth the son, & 
the son the father, the husband his wyfe, and the wyfe 
hir husbande. And if it so be that the father be sicke, 
or the mother, or any frend, the sonne goeth soone to 
the priest of the law & prayeth him that he will aske 
of the ydoll if his father shall dye of that sicknesse, or 
not. And then the priest and the son kneele down 
before the ydole devoutly, & asketh him, and he 
answereth to them, and if he say that he shall lyve, then 
they kepe him wel, and if he say that he shall dye, then 
commeth the priest with the son, or with the wyfe, or 
what frende that it be unto him y l is sicke, and they lay 
their hands over his mouth to stop his breath, & so 
they sley him, & then they smite all the body into 
peces, & praieth all his frendes for to come and eate 
of him that is dead, and they make a great feste thereof, 
and have many minstrels there, and eate him with great 
melody. And so when they have eaten al y e flesh, then 
they take the bones, and bury them all singing with 
great worship, and all those that are of his frendes that 
were not at the eating of him, have great shame and 
vylany, so that they shall never more be taken as frends. 

" And the king of this yle is a great lord and mightie, 
& he hath under him liii greate Yles, and eche of 
them hath a king; and in one of these yles are men 
that have but one eye, and that is in the middest of 
theyr front, and they eat flesh & fishe all rawe. And 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 19 

in another yle dwell men that have no heads, & theyr 
eyen are in theyr shoulders & theyr mouth is on theyr 
breste. In another yle are men that have no head ne 
eyen, and their mouth is in theyr shoulders. And in 
another yle are men that have flatte faces, without nose, 
and without eyen, but they have two small round holes 
in stede of eyen, and they have a flatte mouth without 
lippes. And in that yle are men that have their faces 
all flat without eyen, without mouth & without nose, 
but they have their eyen, and their mouth, behinde on 
their shoulders. 

" And in another yle are foule men that have the 
lippes about the mouth so greate, that when they sleepe 
in the sonne they cover theyr face with the lippe. And 
in another yle are little men, as dwarfes, and have no 
mouth, but a lyttle rounde hole & through that hole 
they eate their meate with a pipe, & they have no 
tongue, & they speake not, but they blow & whistle, 
and so make signes one to another. And in another yle 
are wild men with hanging eares unto their shoulders. 
And in another yle are wild men, with hanging eares 
& have feete lyke an hors & they run faste, & they 
take wild beastes, and eate them. And in another yle 
are men that go on theyr handes & feete lyke beasts 
& are all rough, and will leape upon a tree like cattes 
or apes. And in another yle are men that go ever 
uppon theyr knees marvaylosly, and have on every 
foote viii Toes. . . . 

"There is another yle that men call Pitan, men of 
this lande till no lande, for they eate nought, and they 
are smal, but not so smal as Pigmes. These men live 
with smell of wild aples, & when they go far out of the 
countrey, they beare apples with them, for anon, as 



2 o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

they lose the savour of apples they dye they are not 
reasonable, but as wyld beastes. And there is another 
yle where the people are all fethers, 1 but the face and 
the palmes of theyr handes, these men go as well about 
the sea, as on the lande, and they eate flesh and fish all 
raw. ... In Ethiope are such men that have but one 
foote, and they go so fast y l it is a great marvaill, & 
that is a large fote, that the shadow thereof covereth y c 
body from son or rayne, when they lye upon their backes ; 
and when their children be first borne they loke like 
russet, and when they waxe olde then they be all black." 

There were also ele- 
phant-headed men. 

In the olden times were 
men who did not build 
themselves houses but 
sheltered themselves in 
caves, fissures of rocks, &c., 
and many are the remains 
we find of their flint im- 
plements, and the bones, 
which they used to split 
in order to extract the 
marrow of the animals 
they had slain with their 
rude flint arrows and 
spears. These, in classi- 
cal times, were called Tro- 
'glodytes (from the Greek 
dwellers in caves). It was a generic term, 
although particularly applied to uncivilised races on 
the banks of the Danube those who dwelt on the 

1 Other editions read rough hair. 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 21 

western coasts of the Red Sea and Ethiopia. These 
latter could not have led a particularly happy life, for 
Herodotus tells us that the " Garamantes hunt the 
Ethiopian Troglodytes in four horse chariots ; for the 
Ethiopian Troglodytes are the swiftest of foot of all 
men of whom we have heard any account given. The 
Troglodytes feed upon serpents and lizards, and such 
kind of reptiles ; they speak a language like no other, 
but screech like bats." 

Pliny, as we have seen, speaks of an adder eating 
people, whose food enables them to achieve extra- 
ordinary longevity, and Mandeville tells us that " From 
this yle, men go to an yle that is called Tracota, where 
all men are as beastes, & not reasonable, they dwell 
in caves, for they have not wyt to make them houses 
they eate adders, and they speake not, but they make 
such a noyse as adders doe one to another, and they 
make no force of ryches, but of a stone that hath forty 
colours, and it is called Traconyt after that yle, they 
know not the vertue thereof, but they covete it for the 
great fayreness." 

This stone was probably some kind of agate. It 
could not possibly have been a topaz, as some have 
thought, as the context from Pliny will show. "Topazos 
is a stone that is still held in very high estimation for 
its green tints ; indeed, when first it was discovered, 
it was preferred to every other kind of precious stone. 
It so happened that some Troglodytic pirates, suffering 
from tempest and hunger, having landed upon an island 
off the coast of Arabia, known as Cytis, when digging 
there for roots and grass, discovered this precious 
stone ; such, at least, is the opinion expressed by 
Archelaiis. Juba says that there is an island in the 



22 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Red Sea called Topazos, at a distance of three hundred 
stadia from the mainland ; that it is surrounded by fogs, 
and is often sought by navigators in consequence ; and 
that, to this, it received its present name, the word 
Tofiazin l meaning ' to seek ' in the language of the 
Troglodytae. ... At a later period a statue, four cubits 
in height, was made of this stone. . . . Topazos is 
the largest of all the precious stones." 

This shows that the Troglodytae of Ethiopia had 
some commercial energy, and they did a good trade in 
myrrh and other condiments. Pliny says that the 
Troglodytae traded among other things in cinnamon. 
They " after buying it of their neighbours, carry it over 
vast tracts of sea, upon rafts, which are neither steered 
by rudder nor drawn or impelled by oars or sails. Nor 
yet are they aided by any of the resources of art, 
man alone, and his daring boldness, standing in the 
place of all these ; in addition to which, they choose 
the winter season, about the time of the equinox, for 
their voyage, for then a south-easterly wind is blowing ; 
these winds guide them in a straight course from gulf 
to gulf, and after they have doubled the promontory of 
Arabia, the north-east wind carries them to a port of 
the GebanitEe, known by the name of Ocilia. Hence 
it is that they steer for this port in preference, and they 
say that it is almost five years before the merchants are 
able to effect their return, while many perish on the 
voyage. In return for their wares, they bring back 
articles of glass and copper, cloths, buckles, bracelets, 
and necklaces ; hence it is that this traffic depends more 
particularly upon the capricious tastes and inclinations 
of the female sex." 

1 In Greek, TWdfw, means to guess, divine, or conjecture. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 23 

This shows that some, at least, of the Troglodytes 
had a commercial spirit, and were in a comparative state 
of civilisation ; in fact the latter is thoroughly proved, 
when, a little later on, Pliny speaks of Myrobalanum, 
"Among these various kinds, that which is sent from 
the country of the Troglodytae is the worst of all," 
thus showing that they had reached the civilised pitch 
of adulteration ! There are also several notices of 
peculiarities connected with this people, which deserve 
a passing glance. They had turtles with horns (or 
more probably fore-feet) which resembled the branches 
of a lyre ; with these they swam. These were in all 
likelihood the tortoise-shell turtles, for they called them 
Chelyon. The Troglodytae worshipped them. Their 
cattle were not like other oxen, for their horns pointed 
downwards to the ground, so that they were obliged 
to feed with their heads on one side. These oxen 
should have been crossed with those of Phrygia, whose 
horns were as mobile as their ears. And they were 
the happy possessors of a lake, called the Unhealthy 
Lake, which thrice a day became salt and bitter, and 
then again fresh, and this went on both day and night. 
We can hardly wonder that this Lacus Insanus was 
full of white serpents thirty feet long. 



AMAZONS. 

The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet 
extinct, as the chronicles of every police court can tell, 
and as an organised body of warlike soldiers the King 
of Dahomey still keeps them up, or did until very recently. 
According to Herodotus, the Greeks, after having routed 



24 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the Amazons, sailed away in three ships, taking with them 
as many Amazons, as they had been able to capture alive 
but, when fairly out at sea, the ladies arose, stood up 
for women's rights, and cut all the Greeks in pieces. 
But they had not reckoned on one little thing, and that 
was, that none among them had the slightest idea of 
navigation ; they couldn't even steer or row so they 
had to drift about, until they came to Cremni (supposed 
to be near Taganrog), which was Scythian territory. 
They signalised their landing by horse-stealing, and the 
Scythians, not appreciating the joke, gave them battle, 
thinking they were men ; but an examination of the 
dead proved them to be of the other sex. On learning 
this, the Scythians were far too gentlemanly to continue 
the strife, and, little by little, they established the most 
friendly relations with the Amazons. These ladies, 
however, objected to go to the Scythians' homes, for, 
as they pertinently put it, " We never could live with 
the women of your countty, because we have not the 
same customs with them. We shoot with the bow, 
throw the javelin, and ride on horseback, and have 
never learnt the employments of women. But your 
women do none of the things we have mentioned, 
but are engaged in women's work, remaining in their 
wagons, and do not go out to hunt, or anywhere else ; 
we could not therefore consort with them. If, then, you 
desire to have us for your wives, and to prove your- 
selves honest men, go to your parents, claim your 
share of their property, then return, and let us live 
by ourselves." 

This the young Scythians did, but, when they returned, 
the Amazons said they were afraid to stop where they 
were, for they had deprived parents of their sons, and 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 25 

besides, had committed depredations in the country, so 
that they thought it but prudent to leave, and suggested 
that they should cross the Tanais, or Don, and found 
a colony on the other side. This their husbands acceded 
to, and when they were settled, their wives returned 
to their old way of living hunting, going to war with 
their husbands, and wearing the same clothes in fact 
they enjoyed an actual existence, of which many women 
nowadays, fondly, but vainly dream. There was a 
little drawback however the qualification for a young 
lady's presentation at court, consisted of killing a man, 
and, until that was effected, she could not marry. 

Sir John Mandeville of course knew all about them, 
although he does not pretend to have seen them, and 
this is what he tells us. " After the land of Caldee, 
is the land of Amazony, that is a land where there is 
no man but all women, as men say, for they wil suffer 
no man to lyve among them, nor to have lordeshippe 
over them. For sometyme was a kinge in that lande, 
and men were dwelling there as did in other countreys, 
and had wives, & it befell that the kynge had great 
warre with them of Sychy, he was called Colopius, 
and he was slaine in bataill and all the good bloude 
of his lande. And this Queene, when she herd that, 
& other ladies of that land, that the king and the 
lordes were slaine, they gathered them togither and 
killed all the men that were lefte in their lande among 
them, and sithen that time dwelled no man among 
them. 

"And when they will have any man, they sende for 
them in a countrey that is nere theyr lande, and the 
men come, and are ther viii dayes, or as the woman 
lyketh, & then they go againe, and if they have men 



26 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

children they send them to theyr fathers, when they can 
eate & go, and if they have maide chyldren they kepe 
them, and if they bee of gentill bloud they brene 1 
the left pappe 2 away, for bearing of a shielde, and, if 
they be of little bloud, they brene the ryght pappe away 
for shoting. For those women of that countrey are good 
warriours, and are often in soudy 3 with other lordes, and 
the queene of that lande governeth well that lande ; this 
lande is all environed with water." 



PYGMIES. 

The antitheses of men Dwarfs, and Giants must 
not be overlooked, as they are abnormal, and yet have 
existed in all ages. Dwarfs are mentioned in the Bible, 
Leviticus xxi. 20, where following the injunction of " Let 
him not approach to offer the bread of his God" are 
mentioned the " crookbackt or dwarf." Dwarfs in all 
ages have been made the sport of Royalty, and the 
wealthy ; but it is not of them I write, but of a race 
called the Pygmies, very small men who were descended 
from Pygmaeus. They are noted in the earliest classics, 
for even Homer mentions them in his Iliad (B. 3, 1. 
3-6), which Pope translates : 

" So, wlien inclement winter vex the plain 
With piercing frosts, or thick descending rain, 
To warmer seas, the Cranes embody'd fly, 
With noise, and order, through the mid-way sky ; 
To pigmy nations, wounds and death they bring, 
And all the war descends upon the wing." 

Homer also wrote a poem, " Pygmaeogeranomachia," 

, l Burn. Breast At war. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



27 



about the Pygmies and Cranes. The accompanying 
illustration is from a fresco at Pompeii. 




Aristotle says that they lived in holes under the 
earth, and came out in the harvest time with hatchets, 
to cut down the corn, as if to fell a forest, and went on 
goats and lambs of proportionable stature to themselves 
to make war against certain birds, called Cranes by 




some, which came there yearly from Scythia to plunder 
them. Pliny mentions them several times, but especially 
in B. 7, c. 2. " Beyond these people, and at the very 
extremity of the mountains, the Trispithami, 1 and the 

1 From Tpeis, three, ffiri6a.fJ.at, spans. 



28 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Pygmies are said to exist ; two races, which are but 
three spans in height, that is to say, twenty-seven inches 
only. They enjoy a salubrious atmosphere, and a 
perpetual spring, being sheltered by the mountains from 
the northern blasts ; it is these people that Homer has 
mentioned as being waged war upon by Cranes. It is 
said that they are in the habit of going down every 
spring to the sea-shore, in a large body, seated on the 
backs of rams and goats, and armed with arrows, and 
there destroy the eggs and the young of those birds ; 
that this expedition occupies them for the space of three 
months, and that otherwise it would be impossible for 
them to withstand the increasing multitudes of the 
Cranes. Their cabins, it is said, are built of mud, mixed 
with feathers and egg shells." 

Mandeville thus describes them. " When men passe 
from that citie of Chibens, they passe over a great river 
of freshe water, and it is nere iiii mile brode, & then 
men enter into the lande of the great Caan. This river 
goeth through the land of Pigmeens, and there men are 
of little stature, for they are but three span long, and 
they are right fayre, both men and women, though they 
bee little, and they live but viii l yeare, and he that liveth 
viii yeare is holden right olde, and these small men are 
the best workemen in sylke, and of cotton, in all maner 
of thing that are in the worlde ; and these smal men 
travail not, nor tyl land, but they have amonge them 
great men, as we are, to travaill for them, & they have 
great scorne of those great men, as we would have of 
giaunts, or, of them, if they were among us." 

Ser Marco Polo warns his readers against pscudo 
Pygmies. Says he : " I may tell you moreover that 

1 Other editions say, six or seven years. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 29 

when people bring over pygmies which they allege to 
come from India, 'tis all a lie and a cheat. For those 
little men, as they call them, are manufactured on this 
Island (Sumatra), and I will tell you how. You see 
there is on the Island a kind of monkey which is very 
small, and has a face just like a man's. They take 
these, and pluck out all the hair, except the hair of the 
beard, and on the breast, and then dry them, and stuff 
them, and daub them with saffron, and other things, 
until they look like men. But you see it is all a cheat ; 
for nowhere in India, nor anywhere else in the world, 
were there ever men seen so small as these pretended 
pygmies." 

But there are much more modern mention of these 
small folk. Olaus Magnus not only reproduces the 
classical story, but tells of the Pygmies of Greenland 
the modern Esquimaux. These are also mentioned in 
Purchas his Pilgrimage, as living in Iceland, "pigmies 
represent the most perfect shape of man ; that they are 
hairy to the uttermost joynts of the fingers, and that the 
males have beards downe to the knees ; but, although 
they have the shape of men, yet they have little sense 
or understanding, nor distinct speech, but make shew of 
a kinde of hissing, after the manner of geese." 

But to bring the history of pygmies down to modern 
times I quote from " Giants and Dwarfs," by E. J. 
Wood, 1868, and I am thus particular in giving my 
authority, as the news comes from America, whence, 
sometimes, fact is mixed with fiction (pp. 246, 247, 248). 
" It is alleged by contemporary newspapers, that in 
1828 several burying-grounds, from half an acre to an 
acre and a half in extent, were discovered in the county 
of White, state of Tennessee, near the town of Sparta, 



30 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

wherein very small people had been deposited in tombs 
or coffins of stone. The greatest length of the skeletons 
was nineteen inches. The bones were strong and well 
set, and the whole frames were well formed. Some of 
the people appeared to have lived to a great age, their 
teeth being worn smooth and short, while others were 
full and long. The graves were about two feet deep ; 
the coffins were of stone, and made by laying a flat stone 
at the bottom, one at each side, or each end, and one 
over the corpse. The dead were all buried with their 
heads toward the east, and in regular order, laid on their 
backs, and with their hands on their breasts. In the 
bend of the left arm was found a cruse, or vessel, that 
would hold nearly a pint, made of ground stone, or 
shell, of a grey colour, in which were found two or 
three shells. One of these skeletons had about its 
neck ninety-four pearl beads. Near one of these bury- 
ing-places was the appearance of the site of an ancient 
town. 

Webber, in his ' Romance of Natural History,' refers 
to the diminutive sarcophagi found in Kentucky and 
Tennessee ; and he describes these receptacles to be about 
three feet in length, by eighteen inches deep, and con- 
structed, bottom, sides, and top, of flat, unhewn stones. 
These he conjectures to be the places of sepulture of 
a pigmy race, that became extinct at a period beyond 
reach even of the tradition of the so-called Indian 
aborigines. 

Newspapers for 1866 tell us that General Milroy, who 
had been spending much time in Smith County, Tennes- 
see, attending to some mining business, discovered near 
Watertown in that county some remarkable graves, which 
were disclosed by the washing of a small creek in its 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 31 

passage through a low bottom. The graves were from 
eighteen inches to two feet in length, most of them being 
of the smaller size, and were formed by an excavation of 
about fifteen inches below the surface, in which were 
placed four undressed slabs of rock one in the bottom 
of the pit, one on each side, and one on the top. Human 
skeletons, some with nearly an entire skull, and many 
with well-defined bones, were found in them. The teeth 
were very diminutive, but evidently those of adults. 
Earthen crocks were also found with the skeletons. 
General Milroy could not gain any satisfactory informa- 
tion respecting these pigmy graves. The oldest inhabi- 
tants of the vicinity knew nothing of their origin or 
history, except that there was a large number of similar 
graves near Statesville in the same county, and also 
a little burial-ground at the mouth of Stone River, 
near the city of Nashville. General Milroy deposited 
the bones found by him in the State Library at 
Nashville." 

That a race of dwarfs live in Central Africa, is now 
well known. Ronzo de Leo, who travelled in Africa, for 
many years with Dr. Livingstone, at one time almost 
stood alone in his assertion of this fact. But he was 
supported in his statement by G. Eugene Wolff, who had 
been in Central Africa with Stanley, and he maintained 
that, on the southern branches of the Congo, he had seen 
whole villages of Lilliputians, of whom the men were not 
over four and a half feet high, whilst the women were a 
great deal smaller. He described them as being both 
brave and cunning, expert with bow and arrow, with 
which they readily bring down the African bison, antelope, 
and even elephants. As trappers of small animals they 
are unsurpassed. In a close pinch they use the lance 



32 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

with astonishing dexterity, and an ordinary sling, in 
their hands, is wielded with wonderful skill. 

These dwarfs collect the sap of the palm, with which 
they make soap. The men are smooth-faced, and of a 
rich mahogany colour, while the hair is short, and as 
black as night. Tens of thousands of them live on the 
south branch of the Congo. 

Mr. Stanley in his expedition for the relief of Emin 
Pacha, 1 encountered some tribes of these pigmies, but he 
does not agree with the account which Mr. Wolff gives 
of them, who describes them as an affable, kind-hearted 
people, of simple ways, and devoid of vicious tendencies 
to a greater degree than most semi-barbaric races. The 
women are industrious and amiable. 

Stanley, on the contrary, found them very annoying, 
and had a lively recollection of their poisoned arrows 
but, at the present writing, he not having returned, and 
we, having no record but his letters, had better suspend 
our judgment as to the habits and tempers of these 
small people. 

Wolff says they stand in awe of their bigger neigh- 
bours, but are so brave and cunning that, with all the 
odds of physique against them, the pigmies are masters 
of the situation. 



GIANTS. 

This last sentence seems almost a compendium of 
The History of Tom Thumb, for his wit enabled him 
to overcome the lubber-headed giants, in every conflict 
he was engaged in with them they were no match for 

1 See his letters dated September 1888, which arrived in England early in 
April 1889. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 33 

him. Take the Romances of Chivalry. Pacolet, and 
all the dwarfs, were endowed with acute wits, and there 
was very little they could not compass but the giants ! 
their ultimate fate was always to be slain by some knight, 
and their imprisoned knights and damsels set free. A 
dwarf was a cleanly liver, but a giant was turbulent, 
quarrelsome, lustful, and occasionally cannibal. Fe Fi 
Fo Fum was the type of colossal man, and, as it is quite 
a pleasure to whitewash their characters in these respects, 
I hasten to do so before further discoursing on the sub- 
ject of these great men. 

It is Olaus Magnus who thus tells us 

"Of the sobriety of Giants and Champions." 




" That most famous Writer of the Danish affairs, Saxo, 
alleged before, and who shall be often alleged hereafter, 
saith, that amongst other mighty strong men in the 
North, who were as great as Giants, there was one 
Starchaterus Thavestus, whose admirable and heroick 
Vertues are so worthily extolled by him, that there were 



34 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

scarce any like him in those dayes in all Europe, or in 
the whole World, or hardly are now, or ever shall be. 
And amongst other Vertues he ascribes to that high- 
spirited man, he mentions his sobriety, which is princi- 
pally necessary for valiant men : and I thought fit to 
annex that peculiarly to this relation, that we may, as in 
a glass, see more cleerly the luxury of this lustful age. 
For, as the same Saxo testifies, that valiant Starchaterus 
loved frugality, and loved not immoderate dainties. 
Alwayes neglecting pleasure, he respected Vertue, imitat- 
ing the antient manner of Continency, and he desired a 
homely provision of his Diet ; he hated costly suppers ; 
wherefore hating profusion in Diet, and feeding on 
smoaked and rank meat, he drove away Hunger, with 
the greater appetite, as his meat was but of one kind, 
lest he should remit and abate the force of his true 
Vertue, by the contagion of outward Delights, as by some 
adulterate sweetness, or should abrogate the Rule of 
antient Frugality, by unusual Superstitions for Gluttony. 
Moreover, he could not endure to spend rost and boyled 
meat all at one Meal ; holding that to be a monstrous 
Food, that Cookery had tampered with divers things 
together : Wherefore, that he might turn away the 
Luxury of the Danes, that they borrowed from ihe 
Germans, that made them so effeminate, amongst the 
rest he made Verses in his Country Language." Omit- 
ting many of them, he sang thus : 



" Starchaterus his Verses on Frugality. 

" Strong men do love raw meat ; nor do they need, 
Or love, on dainty Gates and Feasts to feed, 
War is the thing they most delight to breed, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 35 

You may sooner bite off their beards that are 

Full hard, and stiff with bristled, rugged, hair, 

Than their wide mouths leave Milk their daily fare : 

We fly from dainty Kitchins, and do fill 

Our Bellies with rank Meats, and Countray swill, 

Of old, men fed on boyl'd Meats, 'gainst their will. 

A dish of Grass, that had no smack, did hold 

Hog's and sheep's flesh together, hot or cold, 

Nor to pollute their meats with mingling were they bold ; 

He that eats Cream we bid him for to be 

Strong, and to have a mind that's bold and free. 

Eleven Lords of elder time we were, 
That waited on King Hachon, and at fare 
Helgo Begachus sat first in order there. 
First dish he eat was a dry'd Gammon, and 
A Crust as hard as Flint he took in hand, 
This made his hungry, yawning stomach stand : 
No man at Table fed on stinking meat, 
But what was good and common, each man eat, 
Content with simple fare, though nere so great ; 
The greatest were not Gluttons, nor yet fine, 
The King himself full sparingly would dine. 
No Drinks were used that did of Honey bost, 
Beer was their common Liquor, Ceres owest, 
They fed on Meats were little boyl'd, no rost. 
Each Table was with Meats but meanly drest, 
Few Dishes on't, Antiquity thought best ; 
And in plain Fare each held himself most blest. 
There were no Flagons, nor broad Bowls in use, 
Nor painted Dishes grown to great abuse, 
Each, at the Tap, did fill his wooden cruze. 
No man, admirer of the former days, 
Did use Tankards or Oxeys ; x for their ways 
Were sparing, almost empty Dishes this bewrays. 
No Silver Basons, or guilt Cups were thought 
Fit by the Host, and to the table brought, 
To garnish, or by Ghests were vainly sought." 



1 Ox horns, horn cups. 



36 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

By precept, and example, he induced many to Tempe- 
rance and Sobriety but, in spite of his moderation in 
food and drink, he was a most outrageous pirate, and 
Berserker. 

At last, however, old, and weary of life, he sought 
death, and meeting Hatherus, son of a noble whom he 
had killed, begged him as a favour to cut his head off 
and the young man, obligingly consenting, his head was 
severed from his body, and literally bit the ground. 
There are records of many more Northern giants, but 
none of so edifying a life as Starchaterus. 

Giants are plentiful in the Bible, the Emins, Anakims, 
and the Zamzummims : there was Og, King of Bashan, 
whose iron bedstead was 9 cubits long by 4 broad 
i.e., 13 ft. 6 in. by 6 ft. That redoubtable champion 
of the Philistines, Goliath of Gath, was six cubits and a 
span high i.e., 9 ft. 9 in. In 2 Samuel xxi. 15 22, 
we find mention made of many giants. 

" 15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with 
Israel ; and David went down, and his servants with 
him, and fought against the Philistines; and David 
waxed faint. 

" 1 6 And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the 
giants, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred 
shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new 
sword, thought to have slain David. 

" 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, 
and smote the Philistine, and killed him. . . . 

" 1 8 And it came to pass after this, that there was again 
a battle with the Philistines at Gob : then Sibbechai the 
Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the 
giant. 

" 19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 37 

Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a 
Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the 
staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. 

" 20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a 
man of great stature, and on every foot six toes, four 
and twenty in number ; and he also was born to the 
giant. 

"21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of 
Shimeah, the brother of David, slew him. 

" 22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and 
fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his 
servants." 

But these were mere pigmies if we can believe M. 
Henrion, who in 1718 calculated out the heights of divers 
notable persons thus he found Adam was 121 ft. 9 in. 
high, Eve 118 ft. 9 in., Noah 27 ft., Abraham 20 ft., 
and Moses 13 ft. 

Putting aside the mythical classical giants, Pliny says : 
" The tallest man that has been seen in our times, 
was one Gabbaras by name, who was brought from 
Arabia by the Emperor Claudius ; his height was nine 
feet and as many inches. In the reign of Augustus, 
there were two persons, Posio and Secundilla, by name, 
who were half a foot taller than him ; their bodies have 
been preserved as objects of curiosity in the Museum of 
the Sallustian family." 

But it is reserved to Sir John Mandeville to have 
found the tallest giants of, comparatively speaking, 
modern times. " And beyond that valey is a great yle, 
where people as great as giaunts of xxviii fote long, 
and they have no clothinge but beasts skyns that hang 
on them, and they eate no bread, but flesh raw, and 
drink milke, and they have no houses, & they ate 



38 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

gladlyer fleshe of men, than other, men saye to us 
that beyonde that yle is an yle where are greater 
giaunts as xlv or 1 fote long, & some said 1 cubits 
long (75 feet) but I saw them not, and among those 
giaunts are great shepe, and they beare great wolle, 
these shepe have I sene many times." 



EARLY MEN. 

On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, 
because we have no data to go upon. We know that 
his earliest existence, of which we have any cognisance, 
must have been at a period when the climate and fauna 
of the Western continent was totally different to their 
present state. Then roamed over the land, the elephant, 
rhinoceros, hippopotamus, the Bos-primigenius, the rein- 
deer, the cave bear, the brown and the Arctic bears, 
the cave hyaena, and many other animals now quite 
extinct. We know that man then existed, because we 
find his handiwork in the shape of manufactured flint 
implements, mixed with the bones of these animals 
and, occasionally, with them human remains have been 
found, but, as yet, no perfect skull has been found. 
There were two types of man, the Dolicho Cephalous, 
or long-headed, and the Brachy Cephalous, or round- 
headed and, of these, the long-headed were of far 
greater antiquity. 

All we can do is to classify man's habitation of this 
earth, as well as we can, under certain well-defined, and 
known conditions. Thus, that called the Stone Age, 
must be divided into two parts, that of the roughly 
chipped flint implements which is designated the 
Palaeolithic period and that of the polished and care- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 39 

fully finished stone arms and implements, which neces- 
sarily show a later time, and a higher state of civilisa- 
tion which is called the Neolithic period. The next 
age is that of bronze, when man had learned to smelt 
metals, and make moulds, showing a great advance 
and, finally, the Iron Age, in which man had subdued 
the sterner metal to his will and this age immediately 
precedes History. 

The cave men were of undoubted antiquity and 
were hunters of the wild beasts that then overran 
Western Europe, and who split the bones of those 
animals which they slew in order to obtain the marrow. 
Although strictly belonging to the Palaeolithic period, 
they manufactured out of that stubborn material, flint, 
spear-heads, knives, scrapers and, when the bow had 
been invented, arrow-heads. Nor were they deficient in 
the rudiments of art, as some tracings and carvings on 
pieces of the horns of slaughtered animals, clearly show. 
Mr. Christie in digging in the Dordogne caves found, at 
La Madelaine, engraved and carved pictures of reindeer, 
an ibex, a mammoth, &c., all of them recognisable, and 
the mammoth, a very good likeness. This was incised 
on a piece of mammoth tusk. 

The lake men, judging by the remains found near 
their dwellings, occupied their houses during the Stone 
and Bronze periods. Herodotus mentions these curious 
dwellings. "But those around Mount Pangaeus and 
near the Doberes, the Agrianae, Odomanti, and those 
who inhabit Lake Prasias * itself, were not at all sub- 
dued by Megabazus. Yet he attempted to conquer those 
who live upon the lake, in dwellings contrived after this 
manner : planks, fitted on lofty piles, are placed in the 

1 A lake between Macedonia and Thrace. 



40 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

middle of the lake, with a narrow entrance from the 
mainland by a single bridge. These piles that support 
the planks, all the citizens anciently placed there at the 
common charge ; but, afterwards, they established a law 
to the following effect ; whenever a man marries, for 
each wife he sinks three piles, bringing wood from a 
mountain called Orbelus ; but every man has several 
wives. They live in the following manner ; every man 
has a hut on the planks, in which he dwells, with a trap 
door closely fitted in the planks, and leading down to 
the lake. They tie the young children with a cord 
round the foot, fearing lest they should fall into the lake 
beneath. To their horses and beasts of burden they 
give fish for fodder ; of which there is such an abundance, 
that, when a man has opened his trap-door, he lets down 
an empty basket by a cord into the lake, and, after 
waiting a short time, draws it up full of fish." l 

Here, then, we have a valuable record of the lake 
dwellings, and similar ones have been found in the lake 
of Zurich. In 1854, owing to the dryness and cold of 
the preceding winter, the water fell a foot below any 
previous record : and, in a small bay between Ober 
Mcilen and Dollikon, the inhabitants took advantage to 
reclaim the soil thus left, and add it to their gardens, 
by building a wall as far out as they could and they 
raised the level of the land thus gained, by dredging the 
mud out of the lake. In the course of dredging they 
found deer horns, tiles and various implements, and, the 
attention of an antiquary having been directed to this 
find, he concluded that it was the site of an ancient 
lake village. The lakes of Geneva, Constance, and 

1 The fishermen of lake Prasias still liave lake dwellings as in the time of 
Herodotus. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 41 

Neufchatel, have also yielded much that throws light on 
the habits and intelligence of these lake men. They 
wove, they made pottery, they grew and parched corn 
nay they ground it, and made biscuits, they ate apples, 
raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, hazel and beech 
nuts, and peas. They evidently fed on cereals, fruit, 
fish, and the flesh of wild animals, for bones of the 
following animals have been found. Brown bear, badger, 
marten, pine marten, polecat, wolf, fox, wild cat, beaver, 
elk, urus, bison, stag, roe-deer, wild boar, marsh boar 
whilst their domestic animals were the boar, horse, ox, 
goat, sheep, and dog. These, it must be remembered, 
range over a wide period, including the stone and bronze 
ages. They wore ornaments, too, for pins, and bracelets 
have been found. Lake dwellings have been found in 
Scotland, England, Italy, Germany and France so that 
this practice seems to have obtained very widely. In 
Ireland they made artificial islands in the lakes, called 
Crannoges, on which they erected their dwellings. Pile 
dwellings now exist, and are inhabited in many parts of 
the world. 

We have other traces of prehistoric man in the 
shell mounds, kjokkenmoddings, or kitchen middens, 
which still exist in Denmark, and have been found in 
Scotland on the shores of the Moray Firth and Loch 
Spynie ; in Cornwall, and Devon, at St. Valery at the 
mouth of the Somme, in Australia, Tierra del Fuego, 
the Malay Peninsula, the Andaman Islands, and North 
and South America, showing a very wide range. The 
Danish kjokkenmoddings, when first thoroughly noticed, 
(of course, in this century), were taken to be raised 
beaches but when they were examined, it was found 
that the shells were of four species of molluscs or shell- 

F 



42 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

fish, 1 that did not live together, and that they were either 
full-grown, or nearly so. A stricter examination was 
made, and the result was the finding of some flint 
implements, and bones marked by knives, conclusively 
showing that man had had a hand in this collection of 
shells and the conclusion was come to that these 
were the sites of villages of a prehistoric man, a 
hypothesis which was fully borne out by the discovery, 
in some of them, of hearths bearing traces of having 
borne fire. Thus, then, these refuse heaps were clearly 
the work of a very ancient race, so poor, and back- 
ward, as to be obliged to live on shell-fish and these 
mounds were made by the shells which they threw 
away. 

We can find a very great analogy between them and 
the Tierra del Fuegans, when Darwin visited them, 
while with the surveying ships Adventure and Beagle, 
a voyage which took from 1832 to 1836; and, when we 
read the following extracts from Darwin's account of the 
expedition, we can fancy we have before us a vivid 
picture of the makers of the kitchen middens. " The 
inhabitants, living chiefly upon shell-fish, are obliged 
constantly to change their place of residence ; but they 
return at intervals to the same spots, as is evident from 
the pile of old shells, which must often amount to some 
tons in weight. These heaps can be distinguished at a 
long distance by the bright green colour of certain plants 
which invariably grow on them. . . . The Fuegian 
wigwam resembles, in size and dimensions, a haycock. 
It merely consists of a few broken branches stuck in the 
ground, and very imperfectly thatched on one side, with 
a few tufts of grass and rushes. The whole cannot be 

1 The most abundant were the oyster, mussel, cockle, and periwinkle. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 43 

so much as the work of an hour, and it is only used for 
a few days. ... At a subsequent period, the Beagle 
anchored for a couple of days under Wollaston Island, 
which is a short way to the northward. While going 
on shore, we pulled alongside a canoe with six Fuegians. 
These were the most abject and miserable creatures I 
anywhere beheld. On the east coast, the natives, as 
we have seen, have guanaco cloaks, and, on the west, 
they possess sealskins. Amongst the central tribes the 
men generally possess an otter skin, or some small scrap 
about as large as a pocket handkerchief, which is barely 
sufficient to cover their backs as low down as their loins. 
It is laced across the breast by strings, and, according 
as the wind blows, it is shifted from side to side. But 
these Fuegians in the canoe were quite naked, and even 
one full-grown woman was absolutely so. It was 
raining heavily, and the fresh water, together with the 
spray, trickled down her body. . . . These poor wretches 
were stunted in their growth, their hideous faces be- 
daubed with white paint, their skins filthy and greasy, 
their hair entangled, their voices discordant, their ges- 
tures violent and without dignity. Viewing such men, 
one can hardly make oneself believe they are fellow- 
creatures and inhabitants of the same world. ... At 
night, five or six human beings, naked, and scarcely 
protected from the wind and rain of this tempestuous 
climate, sleep on the wet ground, coiled up like animals. 
Whenever it is low water, they must rise to pick shell- 
fish from the rocks ; and the women, winter and summer, 
either dive and collect sea eggs, or sit patiently in their 
canoes, and, with a baited hair line, jerk out small fish. 
If a seal is killed, or the floating carcase of a putrid 
whale discovered, it is a feast : such miserable food is 



44 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

assisted by a few tasteless berries, and fungi. Nor are 
they exempt from famine, and, as a consequence, canni- 
balism accompanied by parricide." 

This I believe to be as faithful a picture as can be 
drawn of the makers of the shell mounds. 

But in Denmark, although shells formed by far the 
major part of these middens, yet they ate other fish, 
the herring, dorse, dab, and eel. Birds also were not 
despised by them, bones of swallows, the sparrow, 
stork, capercailzie, ducks, geese, wild swans, and even 
of the great auk (now extinct) have been found. Then 
of beasts they ate the stag, roe-deer, wild boar, urus, 
dog, fox, wolf, marten, otter, lynx, wild cat, hedgehog, 
bear, and mouse ; beside which they lived on the seal, 
porpoise, and water rat. 

Owing to the almost total absence of polished imple- 
ments and yet the fact being that portions of one or 
two have been found the makers of these kjokkenmodd- 
ings, are classed as belonging to the later Palaeolithic 
period. 

Of the Bronze and Iron Ages there is no necessity 
to write, men were emerging from their primaeval 
barbarity and all the gentle arts, though undeveloped, 
were nascent. Men who could smelt metals, and mould, 
and forge them, cannot be considered as utter barbarians, 
such as were the long-headed men, with their chipped 
flint implements and weapons. 



WILD MEN. 

Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in 
infancy, and has been dragged up somehow in the woods, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



45 



like Caspar Hauser, and Peter the Wild Boy, and fiction 
supplies other instances, such as Romulus and Remus, 
Orson, &c. Some of them were credited with being 
hairy as are the accompanying wild man and woman, as 
they are portrayed in John Sluper's book, where they 
are thus described : 




11 L'HOMME SAUVAGE. 

Combien que Dieu le createur seul sage, 
A fait user les hommes de raison : 
Icy voyez un vray homme sauvage, 
Son corps vela est en toute saison." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 




" LA FEMME SAUVAGE. 

" Fcmnic sauvage a 1'ceil humain, non sainte, 
Ainsi qu'elle est sur le nature! lieu, 
Au nature! vous est icy depeinte, 
Comme voyez qu'il appert a votre vue." 

When Caesar came to Britain for the second time, he 
found the Britons, although to a great extent civilised, 
having cavalry and charioteers (so many of the latter, 
that Cassivelaunus left about 4000 to watch the 
Romans), and knowing the art of fortification, yet in 
themselves, only just emerging from utter barbarism 
the colouring and shaving of themselves showed that they 
had vanity, and were making, after their fashion, the 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 47 

most of their personal charms. Caesar (Book v. 14) 
writes : " Of all these tribes, by far the most civilised are 
those who inhabit Kent, which district is altogether 
maritime; nor do they differ much from the Gallic 
customs. Most of those in the interior do not sow 
corn, but live on flesh and milk, and are clad in skins. 
All the Britons, in truth, dye themselves with woad, 
which produces a bluish colour, and on this account they 
are of a more frightful aspect in battle. They have 
flowing hair, and every part of the body shaved, except 
the head and the upper lip. Ten, and even twelve of 
them have wives in common between them, and chiefly 
brothers with brothers, and fathers with sons ; but, if 
there is any offspring, they are considered to be the 
children of those by whom each virgin was first 
espoused." 

HAIRY MEN. 

If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient 
Briton was " a rugged man, o'ergrown with hair," his 
full-dress toilette must have occupied some time. But 
extreme hairiness in human beings is by no means 
singular, and very many cases are recorded in medical 
books. Many of us may remember the Spanish dancer, 
Julia Pastrana, whose whole body was hairy, and who 
had a fine beard. She had a child on whom the hair 
began to grow, like its mother ; and, but a few years 
back, there was a hairy family exhibited in London 
their faces being covered with hair, as is the case of the 
Puella pilosa, or Hairy Girl given by Aldrovandus in 
his Monstrorum Historia. 

She was aged twelve years, and came from the Canary 
Isles, together with her father (aged 40), her brother (20), 



48 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

and her sister (8), all as hairy one as the other. They 
were brought over by Marius Casalius, and first shown 
at Bologna, so that this is no doubt a faithful likeness, 




as Aldrovandus lived and died in that city. He gives 
other examples, but not so well authenticated as this. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 49 

There were two wonderful hairy people at Ava, in 
Burmah, who are described by two most trustworthy 
eye-witnesses, John Crawford, in his "Journal of an 
Embassy from the Governor-General of India to the 
Court of Ava " and in 1855, by Captain Henry Youle, 
in his " Narrative of the Mission sent by the Governor- 
General of India to the Court of Ava." They were 
father and daughter, respectively named Shu-Maon, and 
Maphoon. The father may strictly be said to have had 
neither eyelashes, eyebrows, nor beard, because the 
whole of his face, including the interior and exterior of 
his ears, were covered with long silky silvery grey hair. 
His whole body, except his hands and feet, was covered 
with hair of the same texture and colour as that now 
described, but generally less abundant ; it was most 
plentiful over the spine and shoulders, where it was five 
inches long ; over the breast, about four inches, and was 
most scanty on the arms, legs, thighs, and abdomen. 

Of the daughter, Captain Youle writes : " The whole of 
Maphoon's face was more or less covered with hair. On 
a part of the cheek, and between the nose and mouth, 
this was confined to a short down, but over all the rest 
of the face was a thick silky hair of a brown colour, 
paleing about the nose and chin, four or five inches long. 
At the alae of the nose, under the eye, and on the cheek 
bone this was very fully developed ; but it was in, and 
on, the ear, that it was most extraordinary. Except the 
upper tip, no part of the ear was visible. All the rest 
was filled and veiled with a large mass of silky hair, 
growing apparently out of every part of the external 
organ, and hanging a pendant lock to a length of eight 
or ten inches. The hair over her forehead was brushed 
so as to blend with the hair of the head, the latter being 



50 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

dressed (as usual with her countrywomen) a la Chinoise ; 
it was not so thick as to conceal her forehead. 

"The nose, densely covered with hair, as no animal's 
is, that I know of, and with long locks curving out, and 
pendant like the wisps of a fine Skye-terrier's coat, had 
a most strange appearance. The beard was pale in 
colour, and about four inches in length, seemingly very 
soft and silky." 

Maphoon, when Captain Youle saw her, had two 
children, one, the eldest, perfectly normal, the other, who 
was very young, was evidently taking after its mother. 

The Ainos, an aboriginal tribe in the north of Japan, 
who are looked down upon by the Japanese as dogs, 
have always been reputed as being covered with hair. 
Mr. W. Martin Wood read a paper before the Ethnological 
Society of London l respecting them, and he said, " Esau 
himself could not have been a more hairy man than are 
these A'inos. The hair forms an enormous bush, and it 
is thick and matted. Their beards are very thick and 
long, and the greater part of their face is covered with 
hair which is generally dark in colour ; they have pro- 
minent foreheads, and mild, dark eyes, which somewhat 
relieve the savage aspect of their visage. Their hands 
and arms, and, indeed, the greater part of their bodies, 
are covered with an abnormal profusion of hair." 

This, however, has been questioned, notably by Mr. 
Barnard Davis, whose paper may be read in the 3rd 
vol. of the " Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of 
London " and he quotes from several travellers, to prove 
that the hairyness of the A'inos had been exaggerated. 
However, Miss Bird in her " Unbeaten Tracks in Japan " 
may fairly be said to have put the subject at rest, for 

1 Transactions of the Ethnological Society, 1866, vol. iv., p. 34. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 51 

she visited, and travelled in the A'ino country. She, 
certainly, disproves the theory that, as a race, they were 
hairy, although she confesses that some were as, for 
instance (p. 232), " They wore no clothing, but only one 
was hairy," and, writing from Biratori, Yezo (p. 255), 
she says, " The men are about the middle height, broad- 
chested, broad-shouldered, thick set, very strongly built, 
the arms and legs short, thick, and muscular, the hands 
and feet large. The bodies, and especially the limbs of 
many, are covered with short, bristly hair. I have seen 
two boys whose backs are covered with fur as fine, and 
soft, as that of a cat." Again (p. 283), " The profusion 
of black hair, and a curious intensity about their eyes, 
coupled with the hairy limbs and singularly vigorous 
physique, give them a formidably savage appearance ; but 
the smile, full of ' sweetness and light/ in which both 
eyes and mouth bear part, and the low, musical voice, 
softer and sweeter than anything I have previously heard, 
make me, at times, forget that they are savages at all." 

THE OURAN OUTAN. 

Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, 
and natural and we need only deal with the Simiinae, 
which includes the Orang, the Chimpanzee, and the 
Gorilla. These are the largest apes, and nearest 
approach to man but, although they may be tailless, 
yet there is that short great toe which prevents any 
acceptation of their humanity. The orang is exclusively 
an inhabitant of Borneo and Sumatra, and in those two 
islands it may be found in the swampy forests near the 
coast. It grows to a large size, for an ape, about four 
feet four inches high, but is neither so large, nor so 



52 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

strong, as the Gorilla. Compared with man, its arms 
seem to be as extravagantly long, as its legs are 
ridiculously short. When wild, it feeds entirely on 
vegetable diet, and makes a kind of house, or nest, in 
trees, interweaving the branches, so as to obtain shelter. 
They do not stand confinement well, being languid and 
miserable but, in their native wildness, they can, if 
necessity arises, fight well in their own defence. A. R. 
Wallace, in his " Malay Archipelago ; the Land of the 
Orang Utan and the Bird of Paradise," tells the following 
story of its combativeness. 

" A few miles down the river there is a Dyak house, 
and the inhabitants saw a large orang feeding on the 
young shoots of a palm by the river side. On being 
alarmed, he retreated towards the jungle, which was close 
by, and a number of the men, armed with spears and 
choppers, ran out to intercept him. The man who was 
in front, tried to run his spear through the animal's body, 
but the orang seized it in his hands, and in an instant 
got hold of the man's arm, which he seized in his mouth, 
making his teeth meet in the flesh above the elbow, 
which he tore and lacerated in a dreadful manner. Had 
not the others been close behind, the man would have 
been seriously injured, if not killed, as he was quite 
powerless ; but they soon destroyed the creature with 
their spears and choppers. The man remained ill for 
a long time, and never fully recovered the use of his 
arm." 

It is called the Simia Satyrus ; probably on its pre- 
sumed lustfulness, certainly not on account of its resem- 
blance to the satyr of antiquity. 

Gesner gives us his idea of the orang, presenting us 
with the accompanying figure of the Cercopithccus, and 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



53 



quotes Cardanus as saying that the Cercopithecus or 

Wild-man, is singularly made, having the height and 

form of a man, with legs 

like man's and is covered 

all over with hair. No 

animal can withstand it, 

with the exception of man, 

to whom, when in its own 

regions, it is not inferior. 

It loves boys and women. 

Pliny speaks of the 
Satyr Ape thus : " Among 
the mountainous districts 
of the eastern parts of 
India, in what is called 
the country of the Cathar- 
cludi, we find the Satyr, 
an animal of extraordi- 
nary swiftness. They go 
sometimes on four feet, 
and sometimes walk erect; 
they have, also, the features 
of a human being. On 
account of their swiftness, 
these creatures are never HP 
to be caught, except when 

they are aged, or sickly," and, in another place, he says, 
" The Sph^ngium and the Satyr stow away food in the 
pouches of their cheeks, after which they will take out 
piece by piece in their hands, and eat it." 

Topsell has mixed up the Simia Satyrus with the 
classical satyr, having legs and horns like goats ; but 
he evidently alludes to the former in this passage. " The 




54 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Satyrcs are in the Islands Satiridcc, which are three in 
number, right over against India on the farther side of 
the Ganges; of which Euphemus Car rehearseth this 
history : that when he sailed unto Italy, by the rage of 
winde and evill weather, they were driven to a coast un- 
navigable, where were many desart Islandes, inhabited 
of wild men, and the marriners refused to land upon some 
Islands, having heretofore had triall of the inhumaine 
and uncivill behaviour of the inhabitants, so that they 
brought us to the Satyrian Islands, where we saw the 
inhabitants red, and had tayles joyned to their backs, 
not much lesse than horsses. These, being perceived by 
the marriners to run to the shippes, and lay hold on the 
women that were in them, the shipmen, for fearc, took 
one of the Barbarian women, and set her on the land 
among them, whom in most odious and filthy manner, 
they abused, whereby they found them to be very bruit 
beasts." 

He gives us his idea 
of the Simia Satyrus, 
which must have been 
an accomplished animal, 
for not only could it, ap- 
parently, play upon the 
pipe, but it had a handy 
pouch for the reception 
of the fruit (in lieu of 
coppers) which it doubt- 
less would receive as 
guerdon for its perform- 
ance. 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 55 

SATYRS. 

He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape 
which closely resembles the classical Satyr : " Under 
the Equinoctial^ toward 
the East and South, there 
is a kind of Ape called 
jEgopithecus, an Ape like 
a Goate. For there are 
Apes like Beares, called 
Arctopitheci, and some like 
Lyons, called Leontopitheci, 
and some like Dogs, called 
Cynocephali, as is before 
expressed; and many other 
which have a mixt resem- 
blance of other creatures 
in their members. 

" Amongst the rest there is a beast called PAN ; who 
in his head, face, horns, legs, and from the loynes 
downward resembleth a Goat, but in his belly, breast, 
and armes, an Ape : such a one was sent by the King 
of Indians to Constantine, which, being shut up in a 
cave or close place, by reason of the wildnesse thereof, 
lived there but a season, and when it was dead and 
bowelled, they pouldred it with spices, and carried it 
to be scene at Constantinople : the which beast having 
beene scene of the ancient Grecians, were so amazed 
at the strangenesse thereof, that they received it for a 
God, as they did a Satyre, and other strange beasts." 

I have said that Topsell has mixed the Ape and the 
Satyr, inextricably but as his version has the charm of 
description and anecdote, I give it with little curtailment. 




5 6 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

" As the Cynocephali, or Baboun Apes have given 
occasion to some to imagine (though falsly) there were 
such men, so the Satyre, a most rare and seldom scene 
beast, hath occasioned other to thinke it was a Devil ; 
and the Poets with their Apes, the Painters, Limners, 
and Carvers, to encrease that superstition, have there- 
fore described him with homes on his head, and feet 
like Goates, whereas Satires have neither of both. And 
it may be that Devils have at some time appeared to 
men in this likenes, as they have done in the likeness 
of the Onocentaure and wild Asse, and other shapes ; it 
being also probable that Devils take not any denomina- 
tion or shape from Satyres, but rather the Apes them- 
selves, from Devils whom they resemble, for there are many 
things common to the Satyre Apes, and devilish Satyres, 
as their human shape, their abode in solitary places, 
their rough hayre, and lust to women, wherewith all other 
Apes are naturally infected ; but especially Satyres. . . . 

" Peradventure the name of Satyre is more fitly derived 
from the Hebrew, Sair. Esa. 34, whereof the plural is 
Scirim, Esa. 13, which is interpreted monsters of the 
Desart, or rough hairy Fawnes ; and when lisim is put 
to Seir, it signifieth Goats. 

"The Chaldceans, for Seirim, render Schedin; that is, 
evill devills ; and the Arabians, lesejathin, that is Satanas : 
the Pcrsyans, Devon, the Illyrians, Devadai, and Dewas : 
the Germans, Teufel. They which passed through the 
world, and exercised dauncing and other sports for 
Dionisius, were called Satyres, and sometimes Tytiri, 
because of their wanton songes ; sometimes Silent 
(although the difference is, that the smaller and younger 
beasts are called Satiri, the elder, and greater, Silent;) 
Also Bacclice and Nymphce, wherefore Bacchus is pictured 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 57 

riding in a chariot of vine branches, Silenus ridinge beside 
him on an Asse, and the Bacchce or Satyres shaking to- 
getheer their staulkie Javelines and Paulmers. 1 By reason 
of their leaping they are called Scirti, and the anticke or 
satyrical dauncing, Sicinnis, and they also sometimes Sicin- 
nistce ; sometimes ^Egipance ; wherefore Pliny reporteth, 
that among the western e Ethiopians, there are certain 
little hilles full of the Satirique JEgipance, and that, in the 
night-time they use great fires, piping and dansing, with 
a wonderful noise of Tymbrels and Cymbals ; and so also 
in Atlas amongest the Moores, whereof there was no foot- 
ing, remnant, or appearance, to be found in the daytime. 

"... There are also Satires in the Eastern moun- 
taines of India, in the country of the Cartaduli, and in 
the province of the Comari and Coruda, but the Cebi 
spoken of before, bred in Ethiopia, are not Satyres 
(though faced like them :) nor the Prasyan Apes, which 
resemble Satyres in short beards. There are many 
kindes of these Satyres better distinguished by names 
than any properties naturall known unto us. Such are 
the ^Egipance, before declared, Nymphes of the Poets, 
Fawnes, Pan and Silent, which, in time of the Gentiles were 
worshipped for Gods ; and it was one part of their religion 
to set up the picture of a Satyre at their dores and gates, 
for a remedy against the bewitching of envious persons. 

"... Satyres have no humaine conditions in them, 
nor any other resemblance of men besides their outward 
shape ; though Solinus speakes of them like as of men. 
They carry their meate under their chin as in a store 
house, and from thence being hungry, they take it forth 
to eat, making it ordinary with them every day, which 
is but annuall in the Formica; lions ; being of very unquiet 

i Thyrsi. 



5 8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

motions above other Apes. They are hardly taken, except 
sicke, great with yong, old or asleepe ; for Sylla had a 
Satyre brought him, which was taken asleepe neare Apol- 
lonia, in the holy place Nyinphcruin, of whom he (by divers 
interpreters) demanded many questions, but received no 
answer, save only a voice very much like the neighing 
of a horse, wherof he being afraid, sent him away alive. 

" Philostratus telleth another history, how that Apollonius 
and his colleagues, supping in a village of Ethiopia, 
beyond the fall of Nilus, they heard a sudden outcry of 
women calling to one another ; some saying, Take him, 
others, Follow him; likewise provoking their husbands 
to helpe them : the men presently tooke clubs, stones, 
or what came first to hand, complaining of an injury 
done unto their wives. Now some ten moneths before, 
there had appeared a fearfull shew of a Satyre, raging 
upon their women, and had slain two of them, with 
whom he was in love : the companions of Apollonius 
quaked at the hearing hereof, and Nilus, one of them, 
swore (by Jove) that they being naked and unarmed, 
could not be able to resist him in his outragious lust, 
but that he would accomplish his wantonnes as before : 
yet, said Apollonius, there is a remedy to quaile these 
wanton-leaping beasts, which men say Midas used (for 
Midas was of kindred to Satyres, as appeared by his 
eares). This Midas heard his mother say, that Safyrcs 
loved to be drunke with wine, and then sleep soundly, 
and after that, be so moderate, mild and gentle, that a 
man might thinke they had lost their first nature. 

" Whereupon he put wine into a fountain neere the 
highway, whereof, when the Satyre had tasted, he waxed 
meeke suddenly, and was overcome. Now that we 
thinke not this a fable (saith Apollonius) let us go to 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 59 

the Governor of the Towne, and inquire of him whether 
there be any wine to be had that we may offer it to the 
Satyre, wherunto all consented, and they filled foure 
great Egyptian earthen vessels with wine, and put it in 
the fountain where their cattel were watred : this done, 
Apollonius called the Satyre, secretly thretning him, and 
the Satire, inraged with the savour of the wine came ; after 
he had drunke thereof, Now, said Apollonius, let us sacrifice 
to the Satyre, for he sleepeth, and so led the inhabitants to 
the dens of the Nymphs, distant a furlong from the towne, 
and shewed them the Satyre saying ; Neither beat, cursse, 
or provoke him henceforth, and he shall never harme you. 
" It is certaine, that the devills do many waies delude 
men in the likeness of Satyres ; for, when the drunken 
feasts of Bacchus were yearely celebrated in Parnassus, 
there were many sightes of Satyres, and voyces, and 
sounding of cymbals heard : yet it is likely that there 
are men also like Satyres, inhabiting in some desart 
places ; for S. lerom, in the life of Paul the Eremite, 
reporteth that there appeared to S. Anthony, an Hippo- 
centaure such as the Poets describe, and presently he 
saw, in a rocky valley adjoining, a little man having 
croked nostrils, homes growing out of his forhed, and 
the neather part of his body had Goat's feet ; the holy 
man, not dismayed, taking the shield of faith, and the 
breastplate of righteousnesse, like a good souldior of 
Christ, pressed toward him, which brought him some 
fruites of palmes as pledges of his peace, upon which he 
fed in the journey ; which Saint Anthony perceiving, he 
asked him who he was, and received this answere ; I am 
a mortall creature, one of the inhabitants of this Desart, 
whom the Gentiles (deceived with error) doe worship, 
and call Fauni, Satyres, and Incubi : I am come in 



6o 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



ambassage from our flocke, intreating that thou would'st 
pray for us unto the common GOD, who came to save 
the world ; the which words were no sooner ended, 
but he ran away as fast as any foule could fly. And 
least this should seeme false, under Constantine at 
Alexandria there was such a man to be scene alive, and 
was a publick spectacle to all the World ; the carcasse 
thereof, after his death, was kept from corruption by 
heat, through salt, and was carried to Antiocha that the 
Emperor himself might see it. 




" Satyres are very sildom scene, and taken with great 
difficulty, as is before saide : for there were two of these 
founde in the woods of Saxony towards Dacia, in a 
desart, the female was killed by the darts of the hunters, 
and the biting of Dogs, but the male was taken alive, 
being in the upper parts like a man, and in the neather 
partes like a Goat, but all hairy throughout : he was 
brought to be tame, and learned to go upright, and also 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 61 

to speake some wordes, but with a voice like a Goat, 
and without all reason. 




" The famous learned man George Fabricius, shewed me 
this shape of a monstrous beast that is fit to be joyned 
to the story of Satyres. There was, (saide he,) in the 
territory of the Bishop of Salceburgh, in a forrest called 
Fannesbergh, a certaine foure-footed beast, of a yellowish 
carnation colour, but so wilde that he would never be 
drawne to looke upon any man, hiding himselfe in the 
darkest places, and beeing watched diligently, would not 
be provoked to come forth so much as to eate his meate 
so that in a very short time it was famished. The 
hinder legs were much unlike the former, and also much 
longer. It was taken about the year of the Lord, one 
thousand five hundred, thirty, whose image being here so 
lively described, may save us further labour in discours- 
ing of his maine and different parts and proportion." 

THE SPHYNX. 

" The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but 
his breast up to his necke, pilde and smooth without hayre : 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



the face is very round, yet sharp and piked, having the 
beasts of women, and their favor, or visage, much like 
them : In that part of the body which is bare with out 
haire, there is a certaine red thing rising in a round 
circle, like millet seed, which giveth great grace & 
comeliness to their coulour, 
which in the middle part 
is humaine : Their voice 
is very like a man's, but 
not articulate, sounding as 
if one did speake hastily, 
with indignation or sorrow. 
Their haire browne, or 
swarthy coulour. They are 
bred in India, and Ethiopia. 
In the promontory of the 
farthest Arabia neere Dira, 
are Sphinges, and certaine 
Lyons, called Fornticce, so, likewise, they are to be found 
amongest the Trogloditce. 

11 As the Babouns and Cynocephali are more wilde than 
other Apes, so the Satyres and Sphynges are more 
meeke and gentle, for they are not so wilde that they 
will not bee tamed, nor yet so tame, but they will re- 
venge their own harmes ; as appeared by that which was 
slayne in a publike spectacle among the Thebanes. They 
carrye their meat in the store houses of their own chaps 
or cheeks, taking it forth when they are hungry, and so 
eat it. 

" The name of this Sphynx is taken from ' binding/ 
as appeareth by the Greek notation, or else of delicacie 
and dainty nice loosnesse, (wherefore there were certain 
common strumpets called Sphincta>, and the Megarian 
Sphingas was a very popular phrase for notorious harlots), 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 63 

hath given occasion to the poets to faigne a certaine 




monster called Sphynx, which they say was thus derived. 



64 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Hydra brought foorth the Chimcera, Chimara by Ortlius, 
the Sphynx, and the Ncntcean Lyon : now, this Orthus 
was one of Gcryon's dogges. This Sphynx they make a 
treble formed monster, a Mayden's face, a Lyon's legs, 
and the wings of a fovvle ; or, as Ansonius and Varinns 
say, the face and head of a mayde, the body of a dogge, 
the winges of a byrd, the voice of a man, the clawes of a 
Lyon, and the tayle of a dragon : and that she kept con- 
tinually in the Sphincian mountaine ; propounding to all 
travailers that came that way an Enigma, or Riddle, 
which was this : What was the creature that first of all 
goeth on foure legges ; afterwards on two, and, lastly, on 
three: and all of them that could not dissolve that Riddle, 
she presently slew, by taking them, and throwing them 
downe headlong, from the top of a Rocke. At last 
(Ediptts came that way, and declared the secret, that it 
zvas a man, who in his infancy crcepeth on all foure, after- 
ward, /;/ youth, goeth upon two legs, and last of all, in 
olde age taketh unto him a staffe which makcth him to goe, 
as it were, on three legs ; which the monster hearing, she 
presently threwe down herselfe from the former rocke, 
and so she ended. Whereupon (Edipus is taken for a 
subtill and wise opener of mysteries. 

" But the truth is, that when Cadmus had married an 
Amazonian woman, called Sphynx, and, with her, came 
to Thebes, and there slew Draco their king, and possessed 
his kingdom, afterwards there was a sister unto Draco 
called Harmona, whom Cadmus married, Sphynx being 
yet alive. She, in revenge, (being assisted by many 
followers,) departed with great store of wealth into the 
mountaine Sphincius, taking with her a great Dogge, 
which Cadmus held in great account, and there made 
daily incursions or spoilcs upon his people. Now, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 65 

cem'gma, in the Theban language, signifieth an inrode, 
or warlike incursion, wherfore the people complained 
in this sort. This Grecian Sphinx robbeth us, in setting 
up with an aenigma, but no man knoweth after what 
manner she maketh this aenigma. 

" Cadmus hereupon made proclamation, that he would 
give a very bountifull reward unto him that would kill 
Sphinx, upon which occasion the Corinthian (Edipus came 
unto her, being mounted on a swift courser, and accom- 
panied with some Thebans in the night season, slue her. 
Other say that (Edipus by counterfaiting friendshippe, 
slue her, making shew to be of her faction ; and Pau- 
sanius saith, that the former Riddle, was not a Riddle, but 
an Oracle of Apollo, which Cadmus had received, whereby 
his posterity should be inheritors of the Theban kingdome ; 
and whereas (Edipus, being the son of Laius, a former 
king of that countrey, was taught the Oracle in his sleepe, 
he recouvered the kingdome usurped by Sphinx his sister, 
and, afterwards, unknown, married his mother Jocasta. 

" But the true morall of this poetical fiction is by that 
learned Alciatus, in one of his emblems, deciphered ; that 
her monstrous treble formed shape signified her lustfull 
pleasure under a Virgin's face, her cruell pride, under 
the Lyon's clawes, her winde-driven leuitye, under the 
Eagles, or birdes feathers, and I will conclude with the 
wordes of Suidas concerning such monsters, that the 
Tritons, Sphinges, and Centaures, are the images of those 
things, which are not to be founde within the compasse of 
the whole world.'' 

APES. 

Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating 
a Cyclops, is equal to the occasion when he has to deal 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



with Apes, and here he gives us an Ape which, unfor- 
tunately, does not seem to have survived to modern 
times namely, one which wove for itself coarse cloth, 
probably of rushes; had a cloak of skin, and walked 
upright, with the aid of a walking-stick, and was so 
genteel, that, having no boots, he seems to have blacked 
his feet. And thus he sings of it : 

" Pres le Peru par effect le voit on, 

Dieu a donne au Singe telle forme. 
Vestu dejonc, s'appuyant d'un baston, 
Estat debout, chose aux homes coforme." 

Before quit- 
ting the subject 
of Apes, I can- 
not refrain from 
noticing another 
of this genus 
mentioned by 
Topsell, and that 
is the Arctopi- 
thecus or Bear 
Ape: "There is 
in America a very 
deformed beast, 
which the inha- 
bitants call Haul 
or Hauti, and 
the Frenchmen 
Guenon, as big as 
a great Affrican 
Monkey. His 
belly hangeth 
very low, his head and face like unto a childes, and being 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 67 

taken, it will sigh like a young childe. His skin is of an 
ashe-colour, and hairie like a Beare : he hath but three 
clawes on a foote, as longe as foure fingers, and like the 
thornes of Privet, whereby he climbeth up into the highest 
trees, and for the most part liveth of the leaves of a certain 
tree, beeing of an exceeding heighth, which the Americans 
call Amahut, and thereof this beast is called Haut. Their 
tayle is about three fingers long, having very little haire 
thereon ; it hath beene often tried, that though it suffer 
any famine, it will not eate the fleshe of a living man, 
and one of them was given me by a French-man, which 
I kept alive sixe and twenty daies, and at the last it was 
killed by Dogges, and in that time when I had set it 
abroad in the open ayre, I observed that, although it often 
rained, yet was that beast never wet. 1 When it is tame, it 
is very loving to a man, and desirous to climbe uppe 
to his shoulders, which those naked Amerycans cannot 
endure, by reason of the sharpnesse of his Clawes." 

ANIMAL LORE. 

We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal 
lore which, however, will scarcely bear the fierce light 
of modern investigation. Thus, he tells us of places in 
which certain animals are not to be found, and narrates 
some very curious zoological anecdotes thereon. " It is 
a remarkable fact, that nature has not only assigned 
different countries to different animals, but that even in 
the same country it has denied certain species to certain 
localities. In Italy, the dormouse is found in one part 
only, the Messian forest. In Lycia, the gazelle never 
passes beyond the mountains which border upon Syria ; 

1 The italics are mine. J. A. 



68 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

nor does the wild ass in that vicinity pass over those 
which divide Cappadocia from Cilicia. On the banks 
of the Hellespont, the stags never pass into a strange 
territory, and, about Arginussa, they never go beyond 
Mount Elaphus ; those upon the mountains, too, have 
cloven ears. In the island of Poroselene, the weasels 
will not so much as cross a certain road. In Boeotia, 
the moles, which were introduced at Lebadea, fly from 
the very soil of that country, while in the neighbourhood, 
at Orchomenus, the very same animals tear up all the 
fields. We have seen coverlets for beds made of the 
skin of these creatures, so that our sense of religion does 
not prevent us from employing these ominous animals for 
the purposes of luxury. 

" When hares have been brought to Ithaca, they die as 
soon as ever they touch the shore, and the same is the 
case with rabbits, on the shores of the island of Ebusus ; 
while they abound in the vicinity, Spain namely, and 
the Balearic isles. In Cyrene, the frogs were formerly 
dumb, and this species still exists, although croaking 
ones were carried over there from the Continent. At 
the present day, even, the frogs of the island of Seriphos 
are dumb ; but when they are carried to other places, 
they croak ; the same thing is also said to have taken 
place at Sicandrus, a lake of Thessaly. In Italy, the 
bite of a shrew-mouse is venomous ; an animal which is 
not to be found in any region beyond the Apennines. 
In whatever country it exists, it always dies immediately 
if it goes across the rut made by a wheel. Upon 
Olympus, a mountain of Macedonia, there are no wolves, 
nor yet in the isle of Crete. In this island there are 
neither foxes nor bears, nor, indeed, any kind of baneful 
animal, with the exception of the phalangium, a species 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 69 

of spider. It is a thing still more remarkable, that in 
this island there are no stags, except in the district of 
Cydon ; the same is the case with the wild boar, the 
woodcock, and the hedgehog." 

He further tells us of animals which will injure 
strangers only, as also animals which injure the natives 
only. 

" There are certain animals which are harmless to the 
natives of the country, but destroy strangers ; such as 
the little serpents at Tirynthus, which are said to spring 
out of the earth. In Syria, also, and especially on the 
banks of the Euphrates, the serpents never attack the 
Syrians when they are asleep, and even if they happen 
to bite a native who treads upon them, their venom is 
not felt ; but to persons of any other country they are 
extremely hostile, and fiercely attack them, causing a 
death attended with great torture. On this account the 
Syrians never kill them. On the contrary, on Latmos, 
a mountain of Caria, as Aristotle tells us, strangers 
are not injured by the scorpions, while the natives are 
killed by them." 

He also throws some curious light, unknown to 
modern zoologists, on the antipathies of animals one to 
another. He says : "There will be no difficulty in per- 
ceiving that animals are possessed of other instincts 
besides those previously mentioned. In fact, there are 
certain antipathies, and sympathies among them, which 
give rise to various affections, besides those which we 
have mentioned in relation to each species, in its appro- 
priate place. The Swan and the Eagle are always at 
variance, and the Raven and the Chloreus seek each 
other's eggs by night. In a similar manner, also, the 
Raven and the Kite are perpetually at war with one 



70 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

another, the one carrying off the other's food. So, too, 
there are antipathies between the Crow and the Owl, 
the Eagle and the Trochilus ; between the last two, if 
we are to believe the story, because the latter has re- 
ceived the title of ' the king of birds ; ' the same, again, 
with the Owlet and all the smaller birds. 

" Again, in relation to the terrestrial animals, the 
Weasel is at enmity with the Crow, the Turtle-dove 
with the Pyrallis, the Ichneumon with the Wasp, and the 
Phalangium with other Spiders. Among aquatic animals, 
there is enmity between the Duck and the Seamew, the 
Falcon known as the ' Harpe,' and the Hawk called 
the ' Triorchis.' In a similar manner, too, the Shrew- 
mouse and the Heron are ever on the watch for each 
other's young ; and the ^Egithus, so small a bird as it 
is, has an antipathy for the Ass ; for the latter, when 
scratching itself, rubs its body against the brambles, and 
so crushes the bird's nest ; a thing of which it stands in 
such dread, that, if it only hears the voice of the Ass 
when it brays, it will throw its eggs out of the nest, and 
the young ones, themselves, will, sometimes, fall to the 
ground in their fright ; hence it is that it will fly at the 
Ass, and peck at its sores with its beak. 

"The Fox, too, is at war with the Nisus, and Serpents 
with Weasels and Swine. ^Esalon is the name given to 
a small bird that breaks the eggs of the Raven, and the 
young of which are anxiously sought by the Fox ; while, 
in its turn, it will peck at the young of the Fox, and 
even the parent itself. As soon as the Ravens espy 
this, they come to its assistance, as though against a 
common enemy. The Acanthi's, too, lives among the 
brambles ; hence it is that it also has an antipathy to 
the Ass, because it devours the bramble blossoms. The 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 71 

^Egithus and the Anthus, too, are at such mortal enmity 
with each other, that it is the common belief that their 
blood will not mingle ; and it is for this reason that they 
have the bad repute of being employed in many magical 
incantations. The Thos and the Lion are at war with 
each other ; and, indeed, the smallest objects and the 
greatest, just as much. Caterpillars will avoid a tree 
that is infested with Ants. The Spider, poised in its 
web, will throw itself on the head of a Serpent, as it 
lies stretched beneath the shade of the tree where it has 
built, and, with its bite, pierce its brain ; such is the 
shock, that the creature will hiss from time to time, and 
then, seized with vertigo, coil round and round, while it 
finds itself unable to take to flight, or so much as to 
break the web of the spider, as it hangs suspended 
above ; this scene only ends with its death." 

THE MANTICORA. 

Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having 
some approach to the human countenance, perhaps the 
most curious is the Manticora. It is not a parvenu ; it 
is of ancient date, for Aristotle mentions it. Speaking 
of the dentition of animals, he says : " None of these 
genera have a double row of teeth. But, if we may 
believe Ctesias, there are some which have this pecu- 
liarity, for he mentions an Indian animal called Martichora, 
which had three rows of teeth in each jaw ; it is as 
large and rough as a lion, and has similar feet, but its 
ears and face are like those of a man ; its eye is grey, 
and its body red ; it has a tail like a land Scorpion, in 
which there is a sting ; it darts forth the spines with 
which it is covered, instead of hair, and it utters a noise 



72 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

resembling the united sound of a pipe and a trumpet ; it 
is not less swift of foot than a stag, and is wild, and 
devours men." 

Pliny also quotes Ctesias, but he slightly diverges, for 
he says it has azure eyes, and is of the colour of blood ; 
he also affirms it can imitate the human speech. Par 
parcnthcse he mentions, in conjunction with the Manticora, 
another animal similarly gifted : " By the union of the 
hyaena with the Ethiopian lioness, the Corocotta is pro- 
duced, which has the same faculty of imitating the voices 
of men and cattle. Its gaze is always fixed and im- 
moveable ; it has no gums in either of its jaws, and the 
teeth are one continuous piece of bone ; they are enclosed 
in a sort of box, as it were, that they may not be blunted 
by rubbing against each other." 

Mais, rcvenons a nos moutons, or rather Mantichora. 
Topsell, in making mention of this beast, recapitulates 
all that Ctesias has said on the subject, and adds : 
" And I take it to be the same Beast which Aviccn calleth 
Marion, and Maricomorion, with her taile she woundeth 
her Hunters, whether they come before her or behinde 
her, and, presently, when the quils are cast forth, new 
ones grow up in their roome, wherewithal she over- 
cometh all the hunters ; and, although India be full of 
divers ravening beastes, yet none of them are stiled 
with a title of Andropophagi, that is to say, Men-eaters ; 
except onely this Mantichora. When the Indians take 
a Whelp of this beast, they fall to and bruise the 
buttockes and taile thereof, so that it may never be fit 
to bring (forth) sharp quils, afterwards it is tamed with- 
out peril. This, also, is the same beast which is called 
Lcucrocuta, about the bignesse of a wilde Asse, being in 
legs and hoofes like a Hart, having his mouth reaching on 



74 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

both sides to his eares, and the head and face of a female 
like unto a Badgers. It is also called Martiora, which in 
the Parsian tongue, signifieth a devourer of men." 

Du Bartas, in " His First Week, or the Birth of the 
World," mentions our friend as being created : 

" Then th' Vnicorn, th' Hyana tearing tombs, 
Swift Manticlwr*, and Nubian Cephas comes ; 
Of which last three, each hath, (as heer they stand) 
Man's voice, Man's visage, Man like foot and hand." 

It is mentioned by other writers but I have a theory 
of my own about it, and that is, that it is only an 
idealised laughing hyaena. 



THE LAMIA. 

The Lamiae are mythological and were monsters 
of Africa, with the face and breast of a woman, the 
rest of the body like that of a serpent ; they allured 
strangers, that they might devour them ; and though not 
endowed with the faculty of speech, their hissings were 
pleasing. Some believed them to be evil spirits, who, in 
the form of beautiful women, enticed young children, 
and devoured them ; according to some, the fable of 
the Lamiae is derived from the amours of Jupiter 
with a beautiful woman, Lamia, whom Juno rendered 
deformed, and whose children she destroyed ; Lamia 
became insane, and so desperate, that she ate up all the 
children which came in her way. 

Topsell, before entering upon the natural history of 
the Lamia, as an animal, tells the following story of it 
as a mythological being: "It is reported of Menippns 
the Lycian, that he fell in love with a strange woman, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 75 

who at that time seemed both beautifull, tender, and rich, 
but, in truth, there was no such thing, and all was but 
a fantastical ostentation ; she was said to insinuate her 
selfe, into his familiaritie after this manner : as he went 
upon a day alone from Corinth to Senchrcea, hee met with 
a certairie phantasme, or spectre like a beautifull woman, 
who tooke him by the hand, and told him she was a 
Phoenician woman, and of long time had loved him 
dearely, having sought many occasions to manifest the 
same, but could never finde opportunitie untill that day, 
wherefore she entreated him to take knowledge of her 
house, which was in the Suburbes of Corinth, there- 
withal! pointing unto it with her finger, and so desired 
his presence. The young man seeing himselfe thus 
wooed by a beautiful woman, was easily overcome 
by her allurements, and did oftimes frequent her 
company. 

" There was a certaine wise man, and a Philosopher, 
which espied the same, and spake unto Menippus in this 
manner, ' O formose, et a formorsis, expetitie mulieribus, 
ophin thalpies, cai se ophis,' that is to say, ' O fair 
Menippus, beloved of beautiful women, art thou a serpent, 
and dost nourish a serpent ? ' by which words he gave 
him his first admonition, or incling of a mischiefe ; but 
not prevayling, Menippus proposed to marry with this 
spectre, her house to the outward shew, being richly 
furnished with all manner of houshold goods ; then said 
the wise man againe unto Menippus, ' This gold, silver, 
and ornaments of house, are like to Tantalus Apples, 
who are said by Homer to make a faire shew, but to 
containe in them no substance at all ; even so, whatso- 
ever you conceave of this riches, there is no matter or 
substance in the things which you see, for they are 



76 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

onely inchaunted images, and shadowes, which that you 
may beleeve, this your neate bride is one of the Empusce, 
called Lamia, or Mormolicce, wonderfull desirous of com- 
merce with men, and loving their flesh above measure ; 
but those whom they doe entice, afterwards they devoure 
without love or pittie, feeding upon their flesh.' At 
which words the wise man caused the gold and silver 
plate, and household stuffe, cookes, and servants to 
vanish all away. Then did the spectre like unto one 
that wept, entreate the wise man that he would not 
torment her, nor yet cause her to confesse what manner 
of person she was ; but he on the other side being 
inexorable, compelled her to declare the whole truth, 
which was, that she was a Phairy, and that she pur- 
posed to use the companie of Menippus, and feede him 
fat with all manner of pleasures, to the extent that, 
afterward, she might eate up and devour his body, for 
all their kinde love was only to feed upon beautiful 
yong men. . . . 

" To leave therefore these fables, and come to the 
true description of the Lamia, we have in hand. In the 
foure and thirty chapter of Esay, we do find this called 
a beast Lilith in the Haebrew, and translated by the 
auncients Lamia, which is threatened to possesse Babcll. 
Likewise in the fourth chapter of the Lamentations, 
where it is said in our English translation, that the 
Dragons lay forth their brests, in Haebrew they are 
called Ehannum, which, by the confession of the best 
interpreters, cannot signifie Dragons, but rather Sea 
calves, being a generall word for strange wilde beasts. 
How be it the matter being wel examined, it shall 
appeare that it must needes be this Lamia, because of 
her great breastes, which are not competible either to 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 77 

the Dragon, or Sea calves ; so then, we wil take it for 
graunted, by the testimony of holy Scripture, that there 
is such a beast as this Cristostinius. Dion also writeth 
that there are such beasts in some parts of Libia, having 
a Woman's face, and very beautifull, also very large 
and comely shapes on their breasts, such as cannot be 
counterfeited by the art of any painter, having a very 
excellent colour in their fore parts, without wings, and 
no other voice but hissing like Dragons : they are the 




swiftest of foote of all earthly beasts, so as none can 
escape them by running, for, by their celerity, they com- 
passe their prey of beastes, and by their fraud they over- 
throw men. For when they see a man, they lay open 
their breastes, and by the beauty thereof, entice them to 
come neare to conference, and so, having them within 
their compasse, they devoure and kill them. 

" Unto the same things subscribe Ccelius and Giraldus, 
adding also, that there is a certaine crooked place in 



78 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Libia neare the Sea-shore, full of sand like to a sandy 
Sea, and all the neighbor places thereunto are deserts. 
If it fortune at any time, that through shipwrack, men 
come there on shore, these beasts watch uppon them, 
devouring them all, which either endevour to travell on 
the land, or else to returne backe againe to Sea, adding 
also, that when they see a man they stand stone still, 
and stir not til he come unto them, looking down upon 
their breasts or to the ground, whereupon some have 
thought, that seeing them, at their first sight have such 
a desire to come neare them, that they are drawne into 
their compasse, by a certaine naturall magicall witchcraft. 
. . . The hinderparts of the beast are like unto a Goate, 
his fore legs like a Beares, his upper parts to a woman, 
the body scaled all over like a Dragon, as some have 
affirmed by the observation of their bodies, when Probns, 
the Emperor, brought them forth unto publike spectacle ; 
also it is reported of them, that the}' devoure their own 
young ones, and therefore they derive their name Lamia, 
of Lamiando ; and thus much for this beast." 



THE CENTAUR. 

This extraordinary combination of man and animal is 
very ancient and the first I can find is Assyrian. Mr. 
W. St. Chad Boscawen, in one of his British Museum 
Lectures (afterwards published under the title of From 
under the Dust of Ages}, speaking of the seasons and 
the zodiacal signs, in his lecture on The Legend of 
Gizdhubar, says: " Gizdhubar has a dream that the stars 
of heaven are falling upon him, and, like Nebuchadnezzar, 
he can find no one to explain the hidden meaning to 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 79 

him. He is, however, told by his huntsman, Zaidu, of 
a very wise creature who dwells in the marshes, three 
days' journey from Erech. . . . The strange being, 
whom this companion of the hero is despatched to bring 
to the Court, is one of the most interesting in the Epic. 
He is called Hea-bani 'he whom Hea has made.' 
This mysterious creature is represented on the gems, 
as half a man, and half a bull. He has the body, face, 
and arms of a man, and the horns, legs, hoofs, and tail 
of a bull. Though in form rather resembling the satyrs, 
and in fondness for, and in association with the cattle, 
the rustic deity Pan, yet in his companionship with 
Gizdhubar, and his strange death, he approaches nearer 
the Centaur Chiron, who was the companion of Heracles. 
" By his name he was the son of Hea, whom Berosus 
identifies as Cronos, as Chiron was the son of Cronos. 
Like Chiron, he was celebrated for his wisdom, and acted 
as the counsellor of the hero, interpreting his dreams, 
and enabling him to overcome the enemies who attacked 
him. Chiron met his death at the hand of Heracles, 
one of whose poisoned arrows struck him, and, though 
immortal, he would not live any longer, and gave his 
immortality to Prometheus. . . . Zeus made Chiron 
among the stars a Sagittarius. Here again we have a 
striking echo of the Chaldaean legend, in the Erech story. 
According to the arrangement of tablets, the death of 
Hea-bani takes place under the sign of Sagittarius, and 
is the result of some fatal accident during the combat 
between Gizdhubar and Khumbaba. Like the Centaurs, 
before his call to the Court of Gizdhubar, Hea-bani led 
a wild and savage life. It is said on the tablets ' that 
he consorted with the wild beasts. With the gazelles 
he took his food by night, and consorted with the cattle 



8o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

by day, and rejoiced his heart with the creeping things 
of the waters.' 

"Hea-Bani was true and loyal to Gizdhubar, and when 
Istar (the Assyrian Venus), foiled in her love for Gizdhu- 
bar, flew to heaven to see her father Anu (the Chaldaean 
Zeus), and to seek redress for the slight put upon her, 
the latter created a winged bull, called ' The Bull of 
Heaven,' which was sent to earth. Hea-Bani, however, 
helps his lord, the bull is slain, and the two companions 
enter Erech in triumph. Hea-Bani met with his death 
when Gizdhubar fought Khumbaba, and ' Gizdhubar for 
Hea-Bani his friend wept bitterly and lay on the 
ground.' " 

Thus, centuries before the Romans had emerged from 
barbarism, we have the prototype of the classical Centaur, 
the man-horse. The fabled Centaurs were a people of 
Thessaly half-men, half-horses and their existence is 
very cloudy. Still, they were often depicted, and the two 
examples of a male and female Centaur, from a fresco at 
Pompeii, are charmingly drawn. It will be seen that 
both are attended by Bacchantes bearing thyrses a 
delicate allusion to their love of wine; for it was owing 
to this weakness that their famous battle with the Lapithae 
took place. The Centaurs were invited to the marriage 
of Hippodamia with Pirithous, and, after the manner of 
cow-boys " up town," they got intoxicated, were very 
rude, and even offered violence to the women present. 
That, the good knights, Sir Hercules and Sir Theseus, 
could not stand, and with the Lapithae, gave the Centaurs 
a thrashing, and made them retire to Arcadia. They had 
a second fight over the matter of wine, for the Centaur 
Pholus gave Hercules to drink of wine meant for him, 
but in the keeping of the Centaurs, and these ill- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



81 



conditioned animals resented it, and attacked Hercules 
with fury. They were fearfully punished, and but few 
survived. 

Pliny pooh-poohs the mythical origin of the Centaurs, 
and says they were Thessalians, who dwelt along Mount 




Pelion, and were the first to fight on horseback. 
Aldrovandus writes that, according to Licosthenes, there 
were formerly found, in the regions of the Great Tam- 
berlane, Centaurs of such a form as its upper part was 
that of a man, with two arms resembling those of a toad, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 83 

and he gives a drawing from that author, so that the 
reader might diligently meditate whether such an animal 
was possible in a natural state of things ; but the artist 
seems to have forgotten the fore-legs. 




The Onocentaur is a monstrous beast ; 

Supposed halfe a man, and halfe an Asse, 

That never shuts his eyes in quiet rest, 

Till he his foes deare life hath round encompast. 
Such were the Centaures in their tyrannic, 
That liv'd by Humane flesh and villanie." 

CHESTER. 



THE GORGON. 

In the title-page of one edition of " The Historic of 
Foure- footed Beastes " (1607) Topsell gives this picture of 
the Gorgon ; and he says, respecting this curious animal, 
the following : " Among the manifold and divers sorts 



84 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

of Beasts which are bred in Affricke, it is thought that 
the Gorgon is brought foorth in that countrey. It is a 
feareful and terrible beast to behold : it hath high and 
thicke eie-lids, eies not very great, but much like an 
Oxes or Bugils, but all fiery bloudy, which neyther looke 
directly forwarde, nor yet upwards, but continuallye downe 
to the earth, and therefore are called in Greeke Catoble- 
ponta. From the crowne of their head downe to their 
nose, they have a long hanging mane, which makes them 




to look fearefully. It eateth deadly and poysonfull hearbs, 
and if at any time he see a Bull, or other creature whereof 
he is afraid, he presently causeth his mane to stand up- 
right, and, being so lifted up, opening his lips, and gaping 
wide, sendeth forth of his throat a certaine sharpe and 
horrible breath, which infecteth, and poysoneth the air 
above his head, so that all living creatures which draw 
the breath of that aire are greevously afflicted thereby, 
loosing both voyce and sight, they fall into leathall and 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 85 

deadly convulsions. It is bred in Hesperia and 
Lybia. 

" The Poets have a fiction that the Gorgones were the 
Daughters of Medusa and Phorcynis, and are called 
Steingo, and by Hesiodus, Stheno, and Eyryale inhabiting 
the Gorgadion Hands in the dEthiopick Ocean, over against 
the gardens of Hesperia. Medusa is said to have the 
haires of his head to be living Serpentes, against whom 
Perseus fought, and cut off his hed, for which cause he 
was placed in heaven on the North side of the Zodiacke 
above the Waggon, and on the left hand holding the 
Gorgons head. The truth is that there were certaine 
Amazonian women in Affricke divers from the Scythians, 
against whom Perseus made warre, and the captaine of 
those women was called Medusa, whom Perseus over- 
threw, and cut off her head, and from thence came 
the Poet's fiction describing Snakes growing out of it 
as is aforesaid. These Gorgons are bred in that 
countrey, and have such haire about their heads, as not 
onely exceedeth all other beastes, but also poysoneth, 
when he standeth upright. Pliny calleth this beast 
Catablepon, 1 because it continually looketh downwards, 
and saith all the parts of it are but smal excepting the 
head, which is very heavy, and exceedeth the proportion 
of his body, which is never lifted up, but all living 
creatures die that see his eies. 

" By which there ariseth a question whether the poison 
which he sendeth foorth, proceede from his breath, or 
from his eyes. Whereupon it is more probable, that 
like the Cockatrice, he killeth by seeing, than by the 
breath of his mouth, which is not competible to any 
other beasts in the world. Besides, when the Souldiers 

1 From /cara/SX^TTw, " to look downwards," 



86 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

of Marius followed luguriha, they saw one of these 
Gorgons, and, supposing it was some sheepe, bending 
the head continually to the earth, and moving slowly, 
they set upon him with their swords, whereat the Beast, 
disdaining, suddenly discovered his eies, setting his 
haire upright, at the sight whereof the Souldiers fel 
downe dead. 

" Marius, hearing thereof, sent other souldiers to kill 
the beaste, but they likewise died, as the former. At 
last the inhabitantes of the countrey, tolde the Captaine 
the poyson of this beast's nature, and that if he were 
not killed upon a Sodayne, with onely the sight of his 
eies he sent death into his hunters : then did the 
Captaine lay an ambush of souldiers for him, who slew 
him sodainely with their speares, and brought him to 
the Emperour, whereupon Marius sent his skinne to 
Rome, which was hung up in the Temple of Hercules, 
wherein the people were feasted after the triumphes ; by 
which it is apparent that they kill with their eies, and 
not with their breath. . . . 

" But to omit these fables, it is certaine that sharp 
poisoned sightes are called Gorgon Blepen, and therefore 
we will followe the Authoritie of Pliny and Athenceus. 
It is a beast set all over with scales like a Dragon, 
having no haire except on his head, great teeth like 
Swine, having wings to flie, and hands to handle, in 
stature betwixt a Bull and a Calfe. 

" There be Ilandes called Gorgonies, wherein these 
monster-Gorgons were bredde, and unto the daies of 
Pliny, the people of that countrey retained some part of 
their prodigious nature. It is reported by Xenofihon, 
that Hanno, King of Carthage, ranged with his armie in 
that region, and founde there, certaine women of in- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 87 

credible swiftenesse and perniscitie of foote. Whereof 
he tooke two onely of all that appeared in sight, which 
had such roughe and sharp bodies, as never before were 
scene. Wherefore, when they were dead, he hung up 
their skinnes in the Temple of Juno, for a monument 
of their straunge natures, which remained there untill 
the destruction of Carthage. By the consideration of 
this beast, there appeareth one manifest argument of 
the Creator's devine wisdome and providence, who hath 
turned the eies of this beaste downeward to the eartd, 
as it were thereby burying his poyson from the hurt of 
man ; and shaddowing them with rough, long and strong 
haire, that their poysoned beames should not reflect 
upwards, untill the beast were provoked by feare or 
danger, the heavines of his head being like a clogge to 
restraine the liberty of his poysonfull nature, but what 
other partes, vertues or vices, are contained in the corn- 
passe of this monster, God onely knoweth, who, per- 
adventure, hath permitted it to live uppon the face of 
the earth, for no other cause but to be a punishment 
and scourge unto mankind ; and an evident example 
of his owne wrathfull power to everlasting destruction. 
And this much may serve for a description of this beast, 
untill by God's providence, more can be known thereof." 

THE UNICORN. 

What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn ! Yet 
what mythical animal is more familiar to Englishmen ? 
In its present form it was not known to the ancients, 
not even to Pliny, whose idea of the Monoceros or Uni- 
corn is peculiar. He describes this animal as having 
" the head of a stag, the feet of an elephant, the tail of 



88 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the boar, while the rest of the body is like that of the 
horse : it makes a deep lowing noise, and has a single 
black horn, which projects from the middle of its fore- 
head, two cubits in length. This animal, it is said, 
cannot be taken alive." 

Until James VI. of Scotland ascended the English 
throne as James I., the Unicorn, as it is now heraldically 
portrayed (which was a supporter to the arms of James 
IV.) was almost unknown vide Tempest, iii. 3. 20 : 

" Alonzo, Give us kind keepers, heavens : what were these ? 
Sebastian. A living drollery. Now I will believe that there 
are unicorns." 

Spenser, who died before the accession of James I., 
and therefore did not write about the supporters of the 
Royal Arms, alludes (in his Faerie Queene) to the antago- 
nism between the Lion and the Unicorne. 

" Like as the lyon, whose imperial poure 
A proud rebellious unicorn defyes, 
T'avoide the rash assault, and wrathful stoure 
Of his fiers foe, him to a tree applyes, 
And when him rouning in full course he spyes, 
He slips aside : the whiles that furious beast, 
His precious home, sought of his enimyes, 
Strikes in the stroke, ne thence can be released, 
But to the victor yields a bounteous feast." 

Pliny makes no mention of the Unicorn as we have 
it heraldically represented, but speaks of the Indian 
Ass, which, he says, is only a one-horned animal. 
Other old naturalists, with the exception of ./Elian, do 
not mention it as our Unicorn and his description of 
it hardly coincides. He says that the Brahmins tell 
of the wonderful beasts in the inaccessible regions of 
the interior of India, among them being the Unicorn, 
" which they call Cartazonon, and say that it reaches 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 89 

the size of a horse of mature age, possesses a mane 
and reddish-yellow hair, and that it excels in swiftness 
through the excellence of its feet and of its whole body. 




Like the elephant it has inarticulate feet, and it has 
a boar's tail ; one black horn projects between the eye- 
brows, not awkwardly, but with a certain natural twist, 
and terminating in a sharp point." 

Guillim, who wrote on heraldry in 1610, gives, in his 
Illustrations, indifferently the tail of this animal, as horse 
or ass ; and, as might be expected from one of his 
craft, magnifies the Unicorn exceedingly : " The Unicorn 
hath his Name of his one Horn on his Forehead. There 
is another Beast of a huge Strength and Greatness, which 
hath but one Horn, but that is growing on his Snout, 
whence he is called Rinoceros, and both are named 
Monoceros, or One horned. It hath been much ques- 
tioned among Naturalists, which it is that is properly 

called the Unicorn : And some hath made Doubt whether 

II 



90 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

there be any such Beast as this, or no. But the great 
esteem of his Horn (in many places to be seen) may 
take away that needless scruple. . . . 

" Touching the invincible Nature of this Beast, Job 
saith, ' Wilt thoti trust him because his Strength is great, 
and cast thy Labour unto him ? Wilt thou believe him, that 
he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy Barn ? ' 
And his Vertue is no less famous than his Strength, 
in that his Horn is -supposed to be the most powerful 
Antidote against Poison : Insomuch as the general Con- 
ceit is, that the wild Beasts of the Wilderness use not 
to drink of the Pools, for fear of the venemous Serpents 
there breeding, before the Unicorn hath stirred it with 
his Horn. Howsoever it be, this Charge may very 
well be a Representation both of Strength or Courage, 
and also of vertuous Dispositions and Ability to do 
Good ; for to have Strength of Body, without the Gifts 
and good Qualities of the Mind, is but the Property of 
an Ox, but where both concur, that may truly be called 
Manliness. And that these two should consort together, 
the Ancients did signify, when they made this one Word, 
Virtus, to imply both the Strength of Body, and Vertue 
of the Mind. . . . 

" It seemeth, by a Question moved by Farnesius, That 
the Unicorn is never taken alive ; and the Reason being 
demanded, it is answered ' That the greatness of his 
Mind is such, that he chuseth rather to die than to be 
taken alive : Wherein (saith he) the Unicorn and the 
valiant-minded Souldier are alike, which both contemn 
Death, and rather than they will be compelled to undergo 
any base Servitude or Bondage, they will lose their 
Lives.' . . . 

"The Unicorn is an untameable Beast by Nature, as 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 91 

may be gathered from the Words of Job, chap. 39, 
' Will the Unicorn serve thee, or will he tarry by thy 
Crib ? Can'st thou bind the Unicorn with his Band to 
labour in the Furrow, or will he plough the Valleys after 
thee?'" 

Topsell dilates at great length on the Unicorn. He 
agrees with Spenser and Guillim, and says : " These 
Beasts are very swift, and their legges have no Articles 
(joints}. They keep for the most part in the desarts, 
and live solitary in the tops of the Mountaines. There 
was nothing more horrible than the voice or braying of 
it, for the voice is strain'd above measure. It fighteth 
both with the mouth and with the heeles, with the mouth 
biting like a Lyon, and with the heeles kicking like a 
Horse. . . . He feereth not Iron nor any yron Instrument 
(as Isodorus writeth) and that which is most strange of 
all other, it fighteth with his owne kind, yea even with 
the females unto death, except when it burneth in lust 
for procreation : but unto straunger Beasts, with whome 
he hath no affinity in nature, he is more sotiable and 
familiar, delighting in their company when they come 
willing unto him, never rising against them ; but, proud 
of their dependence and retinue, keepeth with them all 
quarters of league and truce ; but with his female, when 
once his flesh is tickled with lust, he groweth tame, 
gregall, and loving, and so continueth till she is filled 
and great with young, and then returneth to his former 
hostility." 

There was a curious legend of the Unicorn, that it 
would, by its keen scent, find out a maiden, and run to 
her, laying its head in her lap. This is often used as 
an emblem of the Virgin Mary, to denote her purity. 
The following is from the Bestiary of Philip de Thaun, 



92 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

and, as its old French is easily read, I have not trans- 
lated it : 

" Monoceros est Beste, un corne ad en la teste, 
Purceo ad si a nun, de buc ad fac,un ; 
Par Pucele est prise ; or vez en quel guize. 

Quant horn le volt cacer et prendre et enginner, 
Si vent horn al forest u sis riparis est ; 
La met une Pucele hors de sein sa mamele, 
Et par odurement Monosceros la sent ; 
Dune vent a la Pucele, et si baiset la mamele, 
En sein devant se doit, issi veut a sa mort ; 
Li hom suivent atant ki 1'ocit en dormant 
U trestont vif le prent, si fais puis sun talent. 
Grant chose signifie." . . . 

Topsell, of course, tells the story : " It is sayd that 
Unicorns above all other creatures, doe reverence Virgines 
and young Maides, and that many times at the sight of 
them they grow tame, and come and sleepe beside them, 
for there is in their nature a certaine savor, wherewithall 
the Unicornes are allured and delighted ; for which occa- 
sion the Indian and Ethiopian hunters use this stratagem 
to take the beast. They take a goodly, strong, and 
beautifull young man, whom they dresse in the Apparell 
of a woman, besetting him with divers odoriferous flowers 
and spices. 

" The man so adorned they set in the Mountaines 
or Woods, where the Unicorne hunteth, so as the wind 
may carrie the savor to the beast, and in the meane 
season the other hunters hide themselves : the Unicorne 
deceaved with the outward shape of a woman, and 
sweete smells, cometh to the young man without feare, 
and so suffereth his head to bee covered and wrapped 
within his large sleeves, never stirring, but lying still 
and asleepe, as in his most acceptable repose. Then, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 93 

when the hunters, by the signe of the young man, 
perceave him fast and secure, they come uppon him, 
and, by force, cut off his home, and send him away 
alive : b\it, concerning this opinion wee have no elder 
authoritie than Tzetzes, who did not live above five 
hundred yeares agoe, and therefore I leave the reader 
to the freedome of his owne judgment, to believe or 
refuse this relation ; neither is it fit that I should omit 
it, seeing that all writers, since the time of Tzetzes, doe 
most constantly beleeve it. 

" It is sayd by ^Elianus and Albertus, that, except they 
bee taken before they bee two yeares old they will never 
bee tamed ; and that the Thrasians doe yeerely take 
some of their Colts, and bring them to their King, which 
he keepeth for combat, and to fight with one another ; 
for when they are old, they differ nothing at all 
from the most barbarous, bloodie, and ravenous beasts. 
Their flesh is not good for meate, but is bitter and 
unnourishable." 

It is hardly worth while to go into all the authorities 
treating of the Unicorn ; suffice it to say, that it was an 
universal belief that there were such animals in existence, 
for were not their horns in proof thereof? and were 
they not royal presents fit for the mightiest of potentates 
to send as loving pledges one to another ? for it was 
one of the most potent of medicines, and a sure antidote 
to poison. And they were very valuable, too, for Paul 
Hentzner who wrote in the time of Queen Elizabeth 
says that, at Windsor Castle, he was shown, among other 
things, the horn of an Unicorn of above eight spans and 
a half in length, i.e., about 6^ feet, valued at ^"10,000. 
Considering that money was worth then about three times 
what it is now, an Unicorn's horn was a right royal gift. 



94 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Topsell, from whom I have quoted so much, is 
especially voluminous and erudite on Unicorns ; indeed, 
in no other old or new author whom I have consulted 
are there so many facts (?) respecting this fabled beast 
to be found. Here is his history of those horns then 
to be found in Europe : 

" There are two of these at Venice in the Treasurie 
of S. Markes Church, as Brasavolus writeth, one at 
Argentoratum, which is wreathed about with divers 
sphires. 1 There are also two in the Treasurie of the 
King of Polonia, all of them as long as a man in his 
stature. In the yeare 1520, there was found the home 
of a Unicorne in the river Arrula, neare Bruga in 
Helvetia, the upper face or out side whereof was a darke 
yellow ; it was two cubites (3 feet) in length, but had 
upon it no plights 2 or wreathing versuus. It was very 
odoriferous (especially when any part of it was set on 
fire), so that it smelt like muske : as soone as it was 
found, it was carried to a Nunnery called Campus regius, 
but, afterwards by the Governor of Helvetia, it was 
recovered back againe, because it was found within his 
teritorie. . . . 

"Another certaine friend of mine, being a man worthy 
to be beleeved, declared unto me that he saw at Paris, 
with the Chancellor, being Lord of Pratus, a peece of a 
Unicorn's horn, to the quantity of. a cubit, wreathed in 
tops or spires, about the thicknesse of an indifferent 
staflfe (the compasse therof extending to the quantity 
of six fingers) being within, and without, of a muddy 
colour, with a solide substance, the fragments whereof 
would boile in the Wine although they were never 
burned, having very little or no smell at all therein. 

1 Spirals. 2 Plaits. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 95 

" When Joannes Ferrerius of Piemont had read these 
thinges, he wrote unto me, that, in the Temple of 
Dennis, neare unto Paris, that there was a Unicorne's 
home six foot long, . . . but that in bignesse, it 
exceeded the home at the Citty of Argentorate, being 
also holow almost a foot from that part which sticketh 
unto the forehead of the Beast, this he saw himselfe in 
the Temple of S. Dennis, and handled the home with 
his handes as long as he would. I heare that in the 
former yeare (which was from the yeare of our Lord), 
1553, when Vercella was overthrown by the French, 
there was broght from that treasure unto the King of 
France, a very great Unicorn's home, the price wherof 
was valued at fourscore thousand Duckets. 1 

"Paulus Poceius describeth an Unicorne in this manner; 
That he is a beast, in shape much like a young Horse, 
of a dusty colour, with a maned necke, a hayry beard, 
and a forehead armed. with a Home of the quantity of 
two Cubits, being seperated with pale tops or spires, 
which is reported by the smoothnes and yvorie white- 
nesse thereof, to have the wonderfull power of dis- 
solving and speedy expelling of all venome or poison 
whatsoever. 

" For his home being put into the water, driveth away 
the poison, that he may drinke without harme, if any 
venemous beast shall drinke therein before him. This 
cannot be taken from the Beast, being alive, for as much 
as he cannot possible be taken by any deceit : yet it is 
usually scene that the home is found in the desarts, as 
it happeneth in Harts, who cast off their olde home 

1 Taking the Ducat at 95. 4^d., it would come to 37,000, but if this were 
multiplied by three, the lowest computation of the value of money then, and 
now, it would be worth considerably over ^100,000. 



96 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

thorough the inconveniences of old age, which they 
leave unto the Hunters, Nature renewing an other unto 
them. 

" The home of this beast being put upon the Table 
of Kinges, and set amongest their junkets and bankets, 
doeth bewray the venome, if there be any suche therein, 
by a certaine sweat which commeth over it. Concern- 
ing these homes, there were two scene, which were two 
cubits in length, of the thicknesse of a man's Arme, the 
first at Venice, which the Senate afterwards sent for 
a gift unto Solyman the Turkish Emperor : the other 
being almost of the same quantity, and placed in a 
Sylver piller, with a shorte or cutted * point, which 
Clement the Pope or Bishop of Rome, being come unto 
Marssels brought unto Francis the King, for an excellent 
gift." . . . They adulterated the real article, for sale. 
" Petrns Bellonius writeth, that he knewe the tooth of 
some certaine Beast, in time past, sold for the home of 
a Unicorne (what beast may be signified by this speech 
I know not, neither any of the French men which do 
live amongst us) and so smal a peece of the same, being 
adulterated, sold ' sometimes for 300 Duckets.' But, 
if the home shall be true and not counterfait, it doth, 
notwithstanding, seeme to be of that creature which the 
Auncientes called by the name of an Unicorne, especially 
AZlianus, who only ascribeth to the same this wonderfull 
force against poyson and most grievous diseases, for he 
maketh not this home white as ours doth seeme, but 
outwardly red, inwardly white, and in the Middest or 
secretest part only blacke." 

Having dilated so long upon the Unicorn, it would be 
a pity not to give some idea of the curative properties of 

1 Another name for short vide Cully pipe Cutty sark. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 97 

its horn always supposing that it could be obtained 
genuine, for there were horrid suspicions abroad that it 
might be " the home of some other beast brent in the 
fire, some certaine sweet odors being thereunto added, 
and also imbrued in some delicious and aromaticall 
perfume. Peradventure also, Bay by this means, first 
burned, and afterwards quenched, or put out with cer- 
taine sweet smelling liquors." To be of the proper 
efficacy it should be taken new, but its power was best 
shown in testing poisons, when it sweated, as did also a 
stone called " the Serpent's tongue." And the proper 
way to try whether it was genuine or not, was to give 
Red Arsenic or Orpiment to two pigeons, and then 
to let them drink of two samples ; if genuine, no harm 
would result if adulterated, or false, the pigeons would 
die. 

It was also considered a cure for Epilepsy, the Pes- 
tilent Fever or Plague, Hydrophobia, Worms in the 
intestines, Drunkenness, &c., &c., and it also made the 
teeth clean and white ; in fact, it had so many virtues 
that " no home should be without it." 

And all this about a Narwhal's horn ! 



THE RHINOCEROS. 

The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and 
this picture of it is as early an one as I can find, being 
taken from Aldrovandus de Quad, A.D. 1521. Gesner 
and Topsell both reproduce it, at later dates, but 
reversed. The latter says that Gesner drew it from the 
life at Lisbon but having Aldrovandus and the others 
before me, I am bound to give the palm to the former, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 99 

and confess the others to be piracies. It is certain, 
however, that whoever drew this picture of a Rhinoceros 
must have seen one, either living or stuffed, for it is not 
too bizarre. 

Topsell approaches this animal with an awe and 
reverence, such as he never shows towards any other 
beast ; indeed, he gets quite solemn over it, and he thus 
commences his Apologia : " But for my part, which 
write the English story, I acknowledge that no man must 
looke for that at my hands, which I have not received 
from some other : for I would bee unwilling to write 
anything untrue, or uncertaine out of mine owne inven- 
tion ; and truth on every part is so deare unto mee, that 
I will not lie to bring any man in love and admiration 
with God and his works, for God needeth not the lies 
of men : To conclude, therefore, this Praeface, as the 
beast is strange, and never scene in our countrey, so 
my eyesight cannot adde anything to the description ; 
therefore harken unto that which I have observed out of 
other writers." 

They were very rare beasts, among the early Roman 
Emperors, but in the later Empire they were introduced 
into the Circus, but many centuries rolled on before we, 
in England, were favoured with a sight of this great 
animal. Topsell had not seen one, and he wrote in 
1607, so we accept his Apologia with all his errors : 
" Oppianus saith that there was never yet any distinction 
of sexes in these Rhinocerotes ; for all that ever have 
been found were males, and not females, but from hence 
let no body gather that there are no females, for it were 
impossible that the breede should continue without 
females. 

" When they are to fight they whet their home upon a 



joo CURIOUS CREATURES. 

stone, and there is not only a discord between these 
beasts and Elephants for their food, but a natural de- 
scription and enmity : for it is confidently affirmed, that 
when the Rhinoceros which was at Lisborne, was brought 
into the presence of an Elephant, the Elephant ran away 
from him. How and what place he overcometh the 
Elephant, we have shewed already in his story, namely, 
how he fastneth his home in the soft part of the 
Elephantes belly. He is taken by the same meanes that 
the Unicorne is taken, for it is said by Albertus, Isodorus, 
and Alumnus, that above all other creatures they love 
Virgins, and that unto them they will come be they 
never so wilde, and fall a sleepe before them, so being 
asleepe they are easily taken, and carried away. All the 
later Physitians do attribute the vertue of the Unicorn's 
home to the Rhinocereos horn." 

Ser Marco Polo, speaking of Sumatra, or, as he called 
it, Java the Less, says in that island there are numerous 
unicorns. " They have hair like that of a buffalo, feet 
like those of an elephant, and a horn in the middle of the 
forehead, which is black and very thick. They do no 
mischief, however, with the horn, but with the tongue 
alone ; for this is covered all over with long and strong 
prickles, (and when savage with any one they crush him 
under their knees, and then rasp him with their tongue). 
The head resembles that of a wild boar, and they carry 
it ever bent towards the ground. They delight much 
to abide in mire and mud. 'Tis a passing ugly beast to 
look upon, and is not in the least like that which our 
stories tell us of as being caught in the lap of a virgin ; 
in fact, 'tis altogether different from what we fancied." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



THE GULO. 

Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon : 
" Amongst all creatures that are thought to be insatiable 
in the Northern parts of Sweden, the Gulo hath his name 
to be the principal 1 ; and in the vulgar tongue they call 
him Jerff, but in the German language Vielfras ; in the 
Sclavonish speech Rossamaka, from his much eating, 
and the Latin name is Gulo, for he is so called from his 
gluttony. He is as great as a great Dog, and his ears 




and face are like a Cat's : his feet and nails are very 
sharp ; his body is hairy, with long brown hair, his tail 
is like the Foxes, but somewhat shorter, but his hair 
is thicker, and of this they make brave Winter Caps. 
Wherefore this Creature is the most voracious ; for, 
when he finds a carcasse, he devours so much, that his 
body, by over-much meat, is stretched like a Drum, 
and finding a streight (narroiv) passage between Trees, 
he presseth between them, that he may discharge his 



102 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

body by violence ; and being thus emptied, he returns 
to the carcasse, and fills himself top full ; and then he 
presseth again through the same narrow passage, and 
goes back to the carkasse, till he hath devoured it all ; 
and then he hunts eagerly for another. It is supposed 
he was created by nature to make men blush, who eat 
and drink till they spew, and then feed again, eating 
day and night, as Mechovita thinks in his Sarnmtia. 
The flesh of this Creature is altogether uselesse for man's 
food ; but his skin is very commodious and pretious. 
For it is of a white brown black colour, like a damask 
cloth wrought with many figures ; and it shews the more 
beautiful, as by the Industry of the Artist it is joyn'd 
with other garments in the likenesse or colour. Princes 
and great men use this habit in Winter, made like 
Coats ; because it quickly breeds heat, and holds it long ; 
and that not onely in Swethland, and Gothland, but in 
Germany, where the rarity of these skins makes them to 
be more esteemed, when it is prised in ships among 
other Merchandise. 

"The Inhabitants are not content to let these skins 
be transported into other Countries, because, in Winter, 
they use to entertain their more noble guests in these 
skins ; which is a sufficient argument that they think 
nothing more comely and glorious, than to magnifie at 
all times, and in all orders their good guests, and that 
in the most vehement cold, when amongst other good 
turns they cover their beds with these skins. 

" And I do not think fit to overpasse, that when men 
sleep under these skins, they have dreams that agree 
with the nature of that Creature, and have an insatiable 
stomach, and lay snares for other Creatures, and prevent 
them themselves. It may be that it is as they that eat hot 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 103 

Spices, Ginger or Pepper seem to be inflamed ; and they 
that eat Sugar seem to be choked in water. There seems 
to be another secret of Nature in it, that those who are 
clothed in those Skins, seem never to be satisfied. 

"The guts of this Creatures are made into string:; for 
Musicians, and give a harsh sound, which the Natives 
take pleasure in ; but these, tempered with sweet sound- 
ing strings, will make very good Musick. Their hoofs 
made like Circles, and set upon heads subject to the 
Vertigo, and ringing ears, soon cure them. The Hunters 
drink the blood of this beast mingled with hot water ; 
also seasoned with the best Honey, it is drunk at 
Marriages. The fat, or tallow of it, smeered on putrid 
Ulcers for an ointment is a sudden cure. Charmers use 
the teeth of it. The hoofs, newly taken off, will drive 
away Cats and Dogs, if they do but see it, as birds fly 
away, if they spy but the Vultur or the Bustard. 

" By the Hunter's various Art, this Creature is taken 
onely in regard of his pretious skin ; and the way is 
this ; They carry into the wood a fresh Carkasse ; where 
these beasts are wont to be most commonly ; especially 
in the deep snows (for in Summer their skins are nothing 
worth) when he smels this he falls upon it, and eats till 
he is forced to crush his belly close between narrow 
trees, which is not without pain ; the Hunter, in the 
mean time, shoots, and kills him with an arrow. 

" There is another way to catch this Beast, for they set 
Trees, bound asunder with small cords, and these fly up 
when they eat the Carkasse, and strangle them ; or else 
he is taken, falling into pits dug upon one side, if the 
Carkasse be cast in, and he is compelled by hunger to 
feed upon it. And there is hardly any other way to 
catch him with dogs, since his claws are so sharp, that 



104 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

dogs dare not encounter with him, that fear not to set 
upon the most fierce Wolves." 

Of this animal Topsell says : " This beast was not 
known by the ancients, but hath bin since discovered 
in the Northern parts of the world, and because of the 
great voracity thereof, it is called Gulo, that is, a devourer ; 
in imitation of the Germans, who call such devouring 
Creatures Vilsruff, and the Swedians Cerff, and in Lituania 
and Muscovia it is called Rossotnokal. It is thought to be 
engendered by a Hyaena and a Lionesse, for in quality it 
rcsembleth a Hycena, and it is the same which is called 
Croatia : it is a devouring and unprofitable creature 
having sharper teeth than other creatures. Some thinke 
it is derived from a wolf and a dog, for it is about 
the bignesse of a dog. It hath the face of a Cat, the 
body and taile of a Foxe ; being black of colour ; his 
feet and nailes be most sharp, his skin rusty, the haire 
very sharp, and it feedeth upon dead carkases." 

He then describes its manner of feeding, evidently 
almost literally copying Olaus Magnus, and thus con- 
tinues : " There are of these beastes two kindes, dis- 
tinguished by coulour, one blacke, and the other like a 
Wolfe : they seldom kill a man or any live beastes, but 
feede upon carrion and dead carkasses, as is before saide, 
yet, sometimes, when they are hungry, they prey upon 
beastes, as horses and such like, and then they subtlely 
ascend up into a tree, and when they see a beast under 
the same, they leape downe upon him and destroy him. 
A Beare is afraide to meete them, and unable to match 
them, by reason of their sharpe teeth. 

" This beast is tamed, and nourished, in the courts 
of Princes, for no other cause than for an example of 
incredible voracitie. When he hath filled his belly, if 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 105 

he can find no trees growing so neare another, as by 
sliding betwixte them, hee may expell his excrements, 
then taketh he an Alder-tree, and with his forefeete 
rendeth the same asunder, and passeth through the 
middest of it, for the cause aforesaid. When they are 
wilde, men kill them with bowes and guns, for no other 
cause than for their skins, which are pretious and pro- 
fitable, for they are white spotted, changeably interlined 
like divers flowers, for which cause the greatest princes, 
and richest nobles use them in garments in the Winter 
time; such are the Kings ofPolom'a, Swede- land, Goat- land, 
and the princes of Germany. Neither is there any skinne 
which will sooner take a colour, or more constantly retaine 
it. The outward appearance of the saide skinne is like 
to a damaskt garment, and besides this outward parte 
there is no other memorable thing woorthy observation 
in this ravenous beast, and therefore, in Germany, it is 
called a foure-footed Vulture." 

As a matter of fact, the Glutton or Wolverine, which 
is not unlike a small bear, can consume (while in con- 
finement) thirteen pounds of meat in a day. In its wild 
state, if the animal it has killed is too large for present 
consumption, it carries away the surplus, and stores it up 
in a secure hiding-place, for future eating. 

THE BEAR. 

As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent 
Bears, but puts it in a consecutive, and more readable 
form, it is better to transcribe his version than that of 
the older author. 

" Bears couple in the beginning of winter. The female 
then retires by herself to a separate den, and then brings 



106 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

forth, on the thirtieth day, mostly five young ones. When 
first born, they are shapeless masses of white flesh, a little 
larger than mice; their claws alone being prominent. The 
mother then licks them into proper shape. 1 The male 
remains in his retreat for forty days, the female four 
months. If they happen to have no den, they construct 
a retreat with branches and shrubs, which is made im- 
penetrable to the rain, and is lined with soft leaves. 
During the first fourteen days they are overcome by 
so deep a sleep, that they cannot be aroused by wounds 
even. They become wonderfully fat, too, while in this 
lethargic state. This fat is much used in medicine, and 
it is very useful in preventing the hair from falling off. 2 
At the end of these fourteen days they sit up, and find 
nourishment by sucking their fore paws. They warm 
their cubs, when cold, by pressing them to the breast, 
not unlike the way in which birds brood over their eggs. 
It is a very astonishing thing, but Theophrastus believes 
it, that if we preserve the flesh of the bear, the animal 
being killed in its dormant state, it will increase in bulk, 
even though it may have been cooked. During this 
period no signs of food are to be found in the stomach 

1 "An unlicked cub " is a proverb which has sprung from this fable. Aristotle 
was right when he said that bears when newly born were without hair, and 
blind, but wrong in continuing " its legs, and almost all its parts, are without 
joints." Still, the popular idea that bears licked their young into shape, lasted 
till very modern times, and still survives in the proverb quoted. Shakespeare 
mentions it in 3 Henry VI. iii. 2 : 

" Like to Chaos, or an unlick'd bear whelp, 
That carries no impression like the dam." 

And Chester, in his Loves Martyr, speaking of the Bear, says 

" Brings forth at first a thing that's indigest, 
A lump of flesh without all fashion, 
Which she, by often licking brings to rest, 
Making a formal body, good and sound. 
Which often in this iland we have found." 

3 This use of bear's grease is about 1800 years old. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 107 

of the animal, and only a very slight quantity of liquid ; 
there are a few drops of blood only, near the heart, but 
none whatever in any other part of the body. They 
leave their retreat in the spring, the males being re- 
markably fat ; of this circumstance, however, we cannot 
give any satisfactory explanation, for the sleep, during 
which they increase so much in bulk, lasts, as we have 
already stated, only fourteen days. When they come 
out, they eat a certain plant, which is known as Aros, 
in order to relax the bowels, which would otherwise 
become in a state of constipation ; and they sharpen the 
edges of their teeth against the young shoots of the 
trees. 

" Their eyesight is dull, for which reason in especial, 
they seek the combs of bees, in order that from the 
bees stinging them in the throat, and drawing blood, 
the oppression in the head may be relieved. The head 
of the bear is extremely weak, whereas, in the lion, it 
is remarkable for its strength : on which account it is, 
that when the bear, impelled by any alarm, is about to 
precipitate itself from a rock, it covers its head with its 
paws. In the arena of the Circus they are often to be 
seen killed by a blow on the head with the fist. The 
people of Spain have a belief, that there is some kind 
of magical poison in the brain of the bear, and therefore 
burn the heads of those that have keen killed in their 
public games ; for it is averred, that the brain, when 
mixed with drink, produces, in man, the rage of the 
bear. 

" These animals walk on two feet, and climb trees 
backwards. They can overcome the bull, by suspending 
themselves, by all four legs, from his muzzle and horns, 
thus wearing out its powers by their weight. In no 



io8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

other animal is stupidity found more adroit in devising 
mischief." 

Olaus Magnus, in writing about bears, gives pre- 
cedence to the white, or Arctic bear, and gives an 
insight into the religious life of the old Norsemen, who, 
when converted, thought their most precious things 
none too good for the " Church." If we consider the 
risk run in obtaining a white bear's skin, and the 
privations and cold endured in getting it, we may look 
upon it as a Norse treasure. "Silver and Gold have 
I none; but such as I have, give I unto thee." He 
gives a short, but truthful account of their habits, and 
winds up his all too brief narration thus : " These 
white Bear Skins are wont to be offered by the Hunters, 
for the high Altars of Cathedrals, or Parochial Churches, 
that the Priest celebrating Mass standing, may not take 
cold of his feet, when the Weather is extream cold. In 
the Church at Ntdrosum, which is the Metropolis of the 
Kingdom of Norway, every year such white Skins are 
found, that are faithfully offered by the Hunters Devotion, 
whensoever they take them, and Wolves-Skins to buy 
Wax-Lights, and to burn them in honour of the Saints." 

Olaus Magnus is very veracious in his dealings with 
White Bears, but he morally retrogrades when he touches 
upon the Black and Brown Bears. The illustrations of 
this portion of Olaus Magnus are exceedingly graphic. 
In treating of the cunning used in killing bears, he 
says : " In killing black and cruel Bears in the Northern 
Kingdoms, they use this way, namely, that when, in 
Autumn the Bear feeds on certain red ripe Fruit {Query 
Cranberries) on trees that grow in Clusters like Grapes, 
either going up into the Trees, or standing on the 
ground, and pulling down the Trees, the cunning Hunter, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



109 



with broad Arrows from a Crosse-bow shoots at him, 
and these pierce deep ; and he is so suddenly moved 
with this fright, and wound received, that he presently 
voids backward all the Fruit he ate, as Hailstones ; and 
presently runs upon an Image of a man made of wood, 
that is set purposely before him, and rends and tears 




that, till another Arrow hit him, that gives him his death's 
wound, shot by the Hunter that hides himself behind 
some Stone or Tree. For when he hath a wound, he 
runs furiously, at the sight of his blood, against all 
things in his way, and especially the Shee-Bear, when 
she suckleth her Whelps. 

" The Bears watch diligently for the passing of Deer ; 
and chiefly, the Shee-Bear when she hath brought forth 
her Whelps ; who not so much for Hunger, as for fearing 
of losing her Whelps, is wont to fall cruelly upon all 
she meets. For, she being provoked by any violence, 
far exceeds the force of the He-Bear, and Craft, that 
she may revenge the loss of her Young. For she lyes 
hid amongst the thick boughs of Trees, and young 



no CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Shoots ; and if a Deer, trusting to the glory of his 
horns, or quick smell, or swift running, come too neare 
that place unawares, she suddenly falls out upon him to 
kill him ; and if he first defend himself with his horns, 
yet he is so tired with the knots and weight of them, 
being driven by the rage of the Bear, that he is beaten 
to the ground, that losing force and life, he falls down 
a prey to be devoured. Then she will set upon the 
Bull with his horns, using the same subtilty, and casts 




herself upon his back ; and when the Bull strives with 
his horns to cast off the Bear, and to defend himself, 
she fasteneth on his horns and shoulders with hef paws, 
till, weary of the weight he falls down dead. Then 
laying the Bull on his back like a Wallet, she goes on 
two feet into the secret places of the Woods to feed upon 
him. But when, in Winter she is hunted, she is betrayed 
by Dogs, or by the prints of her feet in the Snow, and 
can hardly escape from the Hunters that run about her 
from all sides." 

Magnus then retails the usual fables about bears 



CURIOUS CREATURES. in 

licking their young into shape, their building houses, 
&c., &c., after which he discourses about the bear and 
hedgehog, a story which has nothing to do with the 
picture. It is described as " the Battail between the 
Hedge-Hog, and the Bear." 

" Though the Urchin have sharp pointed prickles, 
whereby he gathereth Apples to feed on, and these he 




hides in hollow Trees, molesting the Bear in his Den : 
yet is he oppressed by the cunning and weight of the 
Bear : namely when the Urchin roles himself up round 
as a ball, that there is nothing but his prickles to come 
at : yet with this means he cannot prevail against the 
Bear, which opens him, to revenge the wrong he did 
her in violating her Lodging. Nor can the Bear eat the 
Hedge-Hog, it is such miserable poor and prickly meat. 
Wherefore returning again into his Cave, he sleeps, and 
grows fat, living by sucking his paw. 

" The Bears also fight against the Bores, but seldome 
get the victory, because they can better defend themselves 
with their Tusks, than the Bull or the Deer can by their 



ii2 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Horns, or running swiftly. The strong Horses keep off 
the Bears with their biting and kicking, from the Mares 
that are great with Foals. Young Colts save themselves 
by running, but they will always hold this fear, and so 
become unprofitable for the Wars. Wherefore they use 
this stratagem : some Souldier puts on a Bear's skin, 
and meets them, by reason that they are horses that the 
Bears have hunted." 

The Northern Bears seem to have been wonderful 
creatures, for they used to go mad after eating Man- 
dragora, and then they were in the habit of making a 
meal off ants, by way of recovering their sanity. They 
were then, as now, noted for their love of honey, and this 




illustration depicts them as coming out of, and going into 
the ground after bees and honey ; nay, it would seem as 
if they even invaded the barrels put up in the trees to 
serve as hives. But man was more cunning than they, 
and a good bear-skin in those cold regions, had a value 
far exceeding honey. 

" Since that in the Northern Countries, especially 
Podolia, Russia, and places adjacent, because of the great 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 113 

multitude of Bees, the Hives at home will not contain 
them, the Inhabitants willingly let them fly unto hollow 
Trees, made so by Nature, or by Art, that they may in- 
crease there. Wherefore mortal stratagems are thus 
prepared for Bears, that use to steal honey (for they 
having a most weak head, as a Lion hath the strongest, 
for sometimes they will be killed with a blow under their 
ear) ; namely a Woodden Club set round with Iron 




points is hung over the hole the Bees come forth of, 
from some high bough, or otherwise ; and this, being 
cast upon the head of the greedy Bear that is going 
to steal the honey, kills him striving against it ; so he 
loseth his life, flesh, and skin to the Master, for a little 
honey. Their flesh is salted up like Hog's flesh, Stag's 
flesh, Elk's, or Ranged deer's flesh, to eat in Camps, 
and the Tallow of them is good to cure any wounds." 

Everyone of my readers, who is not a Scotsman, will ap- 
preciate the delicate musical taste of the bear, in the matter 
of bagpipes Bruin cannot stand the skirling, and, in the 
illustration, seems to be remonstrating with the piper. 



n 4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

" It is well enough known that Bears, Dolphins, Stags, 
Sheep, Calves and Lambs, are much delighted with 
Musick : and, again, they are to be driven from their 
Heards by some harsh sounding Pipes, or Horns, that 
when they hear the sound they will be gone into the 
Woods, a great way off. Now the Shepheards of the 
Cattel know this well enough : they will play upon their 
two horned Pipes continually, which sometimes are taken 
away by Bears, until such time as the Bear is forced by 
Hunger to go away to get his food. Wherefore they 




take a Goat's Horn, and sometimes a Cow's Horn, and 
make such a horrid noise, that they scare the wild beasts, 
and so return safe to their dispersed flocks. This two 
horned Pipe, which in their tongue they call Seec-Pipe, 
they carry to the fields with them, for they have learned 
by use, that their Flocks and Heards will feed the better 
and closer together. 

" The Russians and Lithuanians are more near to the 
Swedes and Goths on the Eastern parts : and these hold 
it a singular delight, to have always the most cruel 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 115 

Beasts bred up tame with them, and made obedient to 
their commands in all things. Wherefore to do this the 
Sooner, they keep them in Caves, or tyed with Chains, 
chiefly Bears newly taken in the Woods, and half starve 
them ; and they appoint one or two Masters, cloathed 
one like the other, to carry Victuals to them, that they 
may be accustomed to play with them, and handle them 
when they are loose. Also they play on Pipes sweetly, 
and with this they are much taken : and thus they use 
them to sport and dance, and then, when the Pipes sound 
differently, they are taught to lift up their legs, as by a 
more sharp sign, to end the Dance with, that they may 
go on their hinder feet, with a Cap in their fore feet, held 
out to the Women and Maids, and others that saw them 
dance, and ask a reward for their dancing ; and, if it is 
not given freely, they will murmure, as they are directed 
by their Master, and will nod their heads, as desiring 
them to give more money : So the Master of these 
Bears, that cannot speak the language of other countries, 
will get a good gain by his dumb Beast. Nor doth this 
seem to be done onely because that these should live 
by this small gain ; for the Bearherds that lead these 
Bears, are, at least, ten or twelve lusty men ; and in 
their company, sometimes, there go Noblemen's sons, that 
they may learn the manners, fashions, and distances of 
places, the Military Arts, and Concord of Princes, by 
these merry Pastimes. But since they were found, in 
Germany, to spoil Travellers, and to cast them to their 
Bears to eat, most strict Laws are made against them, 
that they may never come there again. 

"There is another Sport, when Bears taken, are put 
into a Ship, and shew merry pastimes in going up and 
down the Ropes, and sometimes are profitable for some 



n6 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

unexpected accident. For Histories of the Provincials 
mention, that it hapned, that one was thus freed from 
a Pirate that was like to set upon him ; for the Pirate 
coming on, was frighted at it, when he saw afar off, 
men, as he supposed, going up and down the Ropes, 
from the Top Mast, as the manner is to defend the 
Ship. Whereas they were but young Bears, playing 
on the Ropes. But the most pleasant sight of all is, 
that when the Bears look out of the Ship into the 




Waters, a great number of Sea Calves will come and 
gaze upon them, that you would think an innumerable 
Company of Hogs swam about the Ship, and they are 
caught by the Sea men with long Spears, with Hooks, 
and a Cord tyed to them ; and so are also the other 
Beasts, that come to help the Sea Calves, taken, and 
crying like to Hogs. Also the Bears are let down to 
swim, that they may catch these wandering Sea-Calves, 
or else, when it thunders, and the weather is tempes- 
tuous, they be taken above Water. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 117 

" But that tame Bears may not onely be kept unprofit- 
ably to feed, and make sport, they are set to the Wheels 
in the Courts of great men, that they may draw up 
Water out of deep Wells ; and that in huge Vessels 
made for this purpose, and they do not help alone 
this Way, but they are set to draw great Waggons, for 
they are very strong in their Legs, Claws, and Loins ; 
nor is it unfit to make them go upright, and carry 
burdens of Wood, and such like, to the place appointed, 
or they stand at great men's doors, to keep out other 
hurtful Creatures. When they are young, they will 
play wonderfully with Boys, and do them no hurt." 

Topsell goes through the usual stories of bears licking 
their cubs into shape, and subsisting by sucking their 
claws but he also affords us much information about 
bears, which we do not find in modern Natural Histories : 
" At what time they come abroad, being in the begin- 
ning of May, which is the third moneth from the Spring. 
The old ones being almost dazled with long darknes, 
comming into light againe, seeme to stagger and reele 
too and fro, and then for the straightnesse of their guts, 
by reason of their long fasting, doe eat the herbe Arum, 
called in English Wake-Robbin, or Calves-foot, being of 
very sharpe and tart taste, which enlargeth their guts, 
and so, being recovered, they remaine all the time their 
young are with them, more fierce, and cruell than at 
other times. And concerning the same Arum, called 
also Dracunculus, and Oryx, there is a pleasant vulgar 
tale, whereby some have conceived that Beares eat this 
herbe before their lying secret, and by vertue thereof 
(without meat, or sence of cold) they passe away the 
whole winter in sleepe. 

" There was a certaine cow-heard, in the Mountains 



n8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

of Helvetia, which, comming downe a hill, with a great 
caldron on his backe, he saw a beare eating a root 
which he had pulled up with his feet ; the cowheard 
stood still till the beare was gone, and afterward came 
to the place where the beast had eaten the same, and, 
finding more of the same roote, did likewise eat it; he 
had no sooner tasted thereof, but he had such a desire 
to sleepe, that hee could not containe himselfe, but he must 
needs lie down in the way, and there fell a sleep, having 
covered his heade with the caldron, to keep himself from 
the vehemency of the colde, and there slept all the Winter 
time without harme, and never rose againe till the spring 
time ; which fable if a man will beleeve, then, doubt- 
lesse, this hearbe may cause the Beares to be sleepers, 
not for fourteene dayes, but for fourscore dayes together. 

" The ordinary food of Beares is fish ; for the Water 
beare, and others will eate fruites, Apples, Grapes, 
Leaves, and Pease, and will breake into bee hives 
sucking out the honey ; likewise Bees, Snayles and 
Emmets, and flesh, if it bee leane, or ready to putrifie ; 
but, if a Beare doe chance to kill a swine, or a Bull, or 
Sheepe, he eateth them presentlie, whereas other beasts 
eate not hearbes, if they eate flesh : likewise they drinke 
water, but not like other beastes, neither sucking it, or 
lapping it, but as it were, even bitinge at it. 

" They are exceeding full of fat or Larde-greace, which 
some use superstitiouslie beaten with oile, wherewith 
they anoint their grape-sickles when they go to vintage, 
perswading themselves that if no bodie knows thereof, 
their tender vine braunches shall never be consumed by 
catterpillers. 

" Others attribute this to the vertue of Beare's blood, 
and Theophrastus affirmeth, that if bearc's grease be kept 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 119 

in a vessell, at such time as the beares lie secret, it will 
either fill it up, or cause it to runne over. The flesh of 
beares is unfit for meate, yet some use to eate it, after 
it hath been twice sodden ; other eat it baked in pasties, 
but the truth is, it is better for medicine than food. 
Theophrastus likewise affirmeth, that at the time when 
beares lie secret, their dead flesh encreaseth, which is 
kept in houses, but beare's fore feet are held for a verie 
delicate and well tasted foode, full of sweetnes, and much 
used by the German Princes. 

" And because of the fiercenesse of this beast, they are 
seldome taken alive, except they be very young, so that 
some are killed in the Mountaines by Poyson, the Country 
being so steepe and rocky that hunters cannot followe 
them ; some taken in ditches of the earth and other 
ginnes. Oppianus relateth that neare Tygris and Armenia, 
the inhabitauntes use this Stratigem to take Beares. 

" The people go often to the Wooddes to find the 
Denne of the Beare, following a learn hound, whose 
nature is, so soone as he windeth the beast, to barke, 
whereby his leader discovereth the prey, and so draweth 
off the hounde with the leame ; then come the people in 
great multitude, and compasse him about with long nets, 
placing certaine men at each end : then tie they a long 
rope to one side of the net, as high from the ground, as 
the small of a Man's belly ; whereunto are fastned divers 
plumes and feathers of vultures, swannes, and other re- 
splendant coloured birdes, which, with the wind make 
a noise or hissing, turning over and glistering ; on the 
other side of the net they build foure little hovels of 
greene boughes, wherein they lay foure men covered all 
over with greene leaves ; then, all being prepared, they 
sound their Trumpets, and wind their horns ; at the 



120 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

noise whereof the beare ariseth, and in his fearefull rage 
runneth too and fro as if he sawe fire : the young men, 
armed, make unto him, the beare, looking round about, 
taketh the plainest way toward the rope hung full of 
feathers, which, being stirred, and haled by those that 
holde it, maketh the beare much affraid with the ratling 
and hissing thereof, and so flying from that side halfe 
mad, runneth into the nets, where the keepers entrap 
him so cunningly, that he seldome escapeth. 

" When a Beare is set upon by an armed man, he 
standeth upright, and taketh the man betwixt his fore- 
feet, but he, being covered all over with yron plates can 
receive no harm, and then may easily, with a sharpe 
knife or dagger pierce thorough the heart of the beast. 

" If a shee beare having young ones be hunted, shee 
driveth her Whelpes before her, untill they be wearied, 
and then, if she be not prevented, she climbeth uppon a 
tree, carrying one of her young in her mouth, and the 
other on her backe. A Beare will not willingly fight 
with a man, but, being hurt by a man, he gnasheth his 
teeth, and licketh his forefeete, and it is reported by an 
Ambassador of Poland, that when the Sarmatians finde 
a beare, they inclose the whole Wood by a multitude 
of people standing not above a cubit one from another ; 
then cut they downe the outmost trees, so that they 
raise a Wall of wood to hemme in the Beares ; this being 
effected, they raise the Beare, having certaine forkes in 
their hands, made for that purpose, and, when the Beare 
approacheth, they, (with those forkes) fall upon him, one 
keeping his head, another one leg, other his body, and 
so, with force, muzzle him and tie his legges, leading 
him away. The Rhaetians use this policy to take Wolves 
and Beares ; they raise up great posts, and crosse them 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 121 

with a long beame laded with heavy weightes, unto the 
which beame they fasten a corde with meat therein, where- 
unto the beast comming, and biting at the meat, pulleth 
downe the beame upon her owne pate. 

" The inhabitants of Helvetia hunt them with mastiffe 
Dogges, because they should not kill their cattell left at 
large in the fielde in the day time ; They likewise shoote 
them with gunnes, giving a good summe of money to 
them that can bring them a slaine beare. The Sarma- 
tians use to take Beares by this sleight ; under those 
trees wherein bees breed, they plant a great many of 
sharpe pointed stakes, putting one hard into the hole 
wherein the bees go in and out, whereunto the Beare 
climbing, and comming to pull it forth, to the end that 
she may come to the hony, and being angry that the 
stake sticketh so fast in the hole, with violence plucketh 
it foorth with both her fore feet, whereby she looseth her 
holde, and falleth downe upon the picked stakes, where- 
upon she dieth, if they that watch for her come not to 
take her off. There was reported by Demetrius, Ambas- 
sador at Rome, from the King of Musco, that a neighbor 
of his, going to seek hony, fell into a hollow tree, up to 
the brest in hony, where he lay two days, being not 
heard by any man to complain ; at length came a great 
Beare to this hony, and, putting his head into the tree, 
the poore man tooke hold thereof, whereat, the Beare, 
suddenly affrighted, drew the man out of that deadly 
danger, and so ranne away for feare of a worse creature. 

" But, if there be no tree wherein Bees doe breed neere 
to the place where the Beare abideth, then they use to 
annoint some hollow place of a tree with hony, where- 
into Bees will enter and make hony combes, and when 
the Beare findeth them, she is killed as aforesaide. In 

Q 



122 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Norway they use to saw the tree almost asunder, so 
that when .the beast climbeth it, she falleth downe upon 
piked stakes laid underneath to kill her ; and some make 
a hollow place in a tree, wherein they put a great pot 
of water, having annointed it with hony, at the bottome 
wherof are fastened certaine hookes bending downeward, 
leaving an easie passage for the beare to thrust in her 
head to get the honie, but impossible to pull it foorth 
againe alone, because the hookes take holde on her 
skinne ; this pot they binde fast to a tree, whereby the 
Beare is taken alive and blinde folded, and though her 
strength breake the corde or chaine wherewith the pot is 
fastened, yet can shee not escape or hurt any bodie in 
the taking, by reason her head is fastened in the pot. 

" To conclude, other make ditches or pits under Apple 
trees, laying upon their mouth rotten stickes, which they 
cover with earth, and strawe uppon it herbes, and when 
the beare commeth to the Apple tree, she falleth into the 
pit and is taken. 

" The herbe Wolfcbaim or Liberdine is poison to Foxes, 
Wolves, Dogs, and Beares, and to all beasts that are 
littered blind, as the Alpine Rhcetians affirme. There is 
one kinde of this called Cyclamwe, which the Valdensians 
call Tora, and with the juice thereof they poison their 
darts, whereof I have credibly received this story ; That 
a certain Valdensian, seeing a wilde beare, having a dart 
poysond heerewith, did cast it at the beare, being farre 
from him, and lightly wounded her, it being no sooner 
done, but the beare ran to and fro in a wonderful per- 
plexitie through the woods, unto a verie sharpe cliffe of 
a rocke, where the man saw her draw her last breath, 
as soon as the poison entered to her hart, as he after- 
ward found by opening of her bodie. The like is 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



123 



reported of henbane, another herb. But there is a 
certaine blacke fish in Armenia full of poison, with the 
pouder whereof they poison figs, and cast them in those 
places where wilde beastes are most plentiful!, which 
they eat, and so are killed. 

" Concerning the Industrie or natural! disposition of 
a beare, it is certaine that they are very hardlie tamed, 
and not to be trusted though they seeme never so tame ; 
for which cause there is a storie of Diana in Lysias, 
that there was a certaine beare made so tame, that it 
went uppe and downe among men, and woulde feede 
with them, taking meat at their handes, giving no 
occasion to feare or mistrust her cruelty ; on a daye, a 
young mayde playing with the Beare, lasciviously did 
so provoke it, that he tore her in pieces ; the Virgin's 
brethren seeing the murther, with their Dartes slew the 
Beare, whereupon followed a great pestilence through 
all that region : and when they consulted with the 
Oracle, the paynim God gave answeare, that the plague 
could not cease untill they dedicated some virginnes 
unto Diana for the Beare's sake that was slaine ; which, 
some interpreting that they should sacrifice them, 
Embarus, upon condition the priesthoode might remaine 
in his family, slewe his onely daughter to end 'the 
pestilence, and for this cause the virgins were after 
dedicated to Diana before their marriage, when they were 
betwixt ten and fifteene yeare olde, which was performed 
in the moneth of January, otherwise they could not be 
married : yet beares aie tamed for labours, and especially 
for sports among the Roxalani and Libians, being taught 
to draw water with wheeles out of the deepest wels ; 
likewise stones upon sleds, to the building of wals. 

" A prince of Lituania nourished a Beare very tenderly, 



i2 4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

feeding her from his table with his owne hand, for he 
had used her to be familiar in his court, and to come 
into his owne chamber, when he listed, so that she would 
goe abroad into the fields and woods, returning home 
againe of her owne accord, and with her hand or foote 
rub the Kinge's chamber doore to have it opened, when 
she was hungry, it being locked. It happened that 
certaine young Noble men conspired the death of this 
Prince, and came to his chamber doore, rubbing it after 
the custome of the beare, the King not doubting any 
evill, and supposing it had bene his beare, opened the 
doore, and they presently slewe him. . . . 

" There are many naturall operations in Beares. Pliny 
reporteth, that, if a woman bee in sore travaile of 
child-birth, let a stone, or arrow, which hath killed a 
man, a beare, or a bore, be throwne over the house 
wherein the Woman is, and she shall be eased of her 
paine. There is a small worme called Volvox, which 
eateth the vine branches when they are young, but if 
the vine-sickles be annointed with Beare's blood, that 
worme will never hurt them. If the blood or greace of 
a Beare be set under a bed, it will draw unto it all the 
fleas, and so kill them by cleaving thereunto. But the 
vertues medicinall are very many ; and first of all, the 
blood cureth all manner of bunches and apostems in the 
flesh, and bringeth haire upon the eyelids if the bare 
place be annointed therewith. 

" The fat of a Lyon is most hot and dry, and next to a 
Lyon's a Leopard's ; next to a Leopard's a Beare's ; and 
next to a Beare's, a Bui's. The later Physitians use it 
to cure convulsed and distracted parts, spots, and tumors 
in the body. It also helpeth the paine of the loins, if 
the sicke part be annointed therewith, and all ulcers in 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 125 

the legges or shinnes, when a plaister is made thereof 
with bole armoricke. Also the ulcers of the feet, 
mingled with allome. It is soveraigne against the fall- 
ing of the haire, compounded with wilde roses. The 
Spaniards burne the braines of beares, when they die in 
any publicke sports, holding them venemous ; because, 
being drunke, they drive a man to be as mad as a 
beare ; and the like is reported of the heart of a Lyon, 
and the braine of a Cat. The right eie of a beare dried to 
pouder, and hung about children's neckes in a little bag, 
driveth away the terrour of dreames, and both the eyes 
whole, bound to a man's left arme, easeth a quartan ague. 
" The liver of a sow, a lamb, and a bear put togither, 
and trod to pouder under one's shoos, easeth and 
defendeth cripples from inflamation : the gall being pre- 
served and warmed in water, delivereth the bodie from 
Colde, when all other medicine faileth. Some give it, 
mixt with Water, to them that are bitten with a mad 
Dogge, holding it for a singular remedie, if the party 
can fast three daies before. It is also given against the 
palsie, the king's evill, the falling sickenesse, an old cough, 
the inflamation of the eies, the running of the eares, de- 
levery in child birth, the Haemorrhods, the weaknes of 
the backe, and the palsie : and that women may go their 
full time, they make arnmulets of Bear's nails, and cause 
them to weare them all the time they are with Child." 

THE Fox. 

By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height 
of at least a demigod and his cult is a serious matter 
attended with great minutiae of ritual. Englishmen 
and Foxes cannot live together, but they live for one 
another, the man to hunt the fox, the fox to be hunted. 



126 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

If there be a fox anywhere, even in the Campagna at 
Rome, and there are sufficient Englishmen to get up a 
scratch pack of hounds, there must " bold Reynard " be 
tortured with fear and exertion, only, in all probability, 
to die a cruel death in the end. In the Peninsular War, 
a pack of foxhounds accompanied the army ; in India, 
failing foxes, they take the nearest substitute, the jackal ; 
and in Australia, fautc de mieux, they hunt the Dingo, or 
native dog. No properly constituted Englishman could 
ever compass the death of a poor fox, otherwise than 
by hunting. The Vulpecide in any other manner 
is, in an English county, a social leper he is a thing 
anathema. Running away with a neighbour's wife may be 
condoned by county society, at least, among the men, but 
with them the man that shoots foxes is a very pariah, 
and it were good for that man had he never been born. 

Every other nation, even from historic antiquity, has 
reckoned the Fox as among the ordinary fcrcc naturae, 
to be killed, when met with, for the sake only of his 
skin, for his flesh is not toothsome : and when he 
arrives at the dignity of a silver or a black fox, his fur 
enwraps royal personages, as being of extreme value. 

The Fox is noted everywhere for its " craftiness" and 
was so famed long before the epic of Reineke Fuchs 
was evolved, and, indeed, this may be said to be its 
principal attribute. Many are the stories told by country 
firesides of his stratagems, both in plundering and in 
his endeavours to escape from his enemies. Indeed, no 
country ought to be able to compare in Fox lore with 
our own. Its sagacity, cunning, or call it what you like, 
dates far back. Pliny tells us that " in Thrace, when 
all parts are covered with ice, the foxes are consulted, 
an animal, which, in other respects, is baneful from its 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 127 

Craftiness. It has been observed, that this animal applies 
its ear to the ice, for the purpose of testing its thickness ; 
hence it is, that the inhabitants will never cross frozen 
rivers and lakes, until the foxes have passed over them 
and returned." 

The Fox is most abundant in the northern parts of 
Europe, and therefore we hear more about him from the 
pages of Olaus Magnus, Gessner, and Topsell. 

The former says : " When the fox is pressed with 




hunger, Cold and Snow, and he comes near men's houses, 
he will bark like a dog, that house creatures may come 
nearer to him with more confidence. Also, he will faign 
himself dead, and lie on his back, drawing in his breath, 
and lolling out his tongue. The birds coming down, 
unawares, to feed on the carkasse, are snapt up by him, 
with open mouth. Moreover, when he is hungry, and 
finds nothing to eat, he rolls himself in red earth, that 
he may appear bloody ; and, casting himself on the 
earth, he holds his breath, and when the birds see that 



128 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

he breaths not, and that his tongue hangs forth of his 
mouth, they think he is dead ; but so soon as they 
descend, he draws them to him and devours them. 

"Again, when he sees that he cannot conquer the 
Urchin, for his prickles, he lays him on his back, and so 
rends the soft part of his body. Sometimes fearing the 
multitude of wasps, he counterfeits and hides himself, 
his tail hanging out : and when he sees that they are all 
busie, and entangled in his thick tail, he comes forth, 
and rubs them against a stone or Tree, and kills them 
and eats them. The same trick, almost, he useth, when 
he lyes in wait for crabs and small fish, running about 
the bank, and he lets down his tail into the water, they 
admire at it, and run to it, and are taken in his fur, and 
pull'd out. Moreover, when he hath fleas, he makes a 
little bundle of soft hay wrapt in hair, and holds it in 
his mouth ; then he goes by degrees into the water, 
beginning with his tail, that the fleas fearing the water, 
will run up all his body till they come at his head : then 
he dips in his head, that they may leap into the hay ; 
when this is done, he leaves the hay in the water, and 
swims forth. 

" But when he is hungry, he will counterfeit to play 
with the Hare, which he presently catcheth and devoureth, 
unlesse the Hare escape by flight, as he often doth. 
Sometimes he also escapes from the dogs by barking, 
faigning himself to be a dog, but more surely when he 
hangs by a bough, and makes the dogs hunt in vain to 
find his footing. He is also wont to deceive the Hunter 
and his dogs, when he runs among a herd of Goats, 
and goes for one of them, leaping upon the Goat's 
back, that he may sooner escape by the running of the 
Goat, by reason of the hatefull Rider on his back. The 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 129 

other Goats follow, which the Hunter fearing to molest, 
calls off his Dogs that many be not killed. 

." If he be taken in a string, he will sometime bite off 
his own foot, and so get away. But, if there be no 
way open he will faign himself dead, that being taken 
out of the snare, he may run away. Moreover, when 
a dog runs after him, and overtakes him, and would 
bite him, he draws his bristly tail through the dog's 
mouth, and so he deludes the dog till he can get into 
the lurking places of the Woods. I saw also in the 
Rocks of Noi~way a Fox with a huge tail, who brought 
many Crabs out of the water, and then he ate them. 
And that is no rare sight, when as no fish like Crabs 
will stick to a bristly thing let down into the water, and 
to dry fish, laid on the rocks to dry. They that are 
troubled with the Gowt, are cured by laying the warm 
skin of this beast about the part, and binding it on. 
The fat, also, of the same creature, laid smeered upon 
the ears or lims of a gowty person, heals him ; his 
fat is good for all torments of the guts, and for all 
pains, his brain often given to a child will preserve it 
ever from the Falling-sicknesse. These and such-like 
simple medicaments the North Country people observe." 

A portion of the above receives a curious corrobora- 
tion from Mr. P. Robinson in his book, The Poets' 
Beasts. Speaking of the Lynx, he says: "But it is not, 
as is supposed, ' untamable.' The Gaekwar of Baroda 
has a regular pack of trained lynxes, for stalking and 
hunting pea-fowl, and other kinds of birds. I have, 
myself, seen a tame lynx that had been taught to catch 
crows no simple feat and its strategy was as diverting 
as its agility amazing. It would lie down with the end 
of a string in its mouth, the other end being fast to a 



i 3 o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

stake, and pretend to be asleep, dead asleep, drunk, 
chloroformed, anything you like that means profound 
and gross slumber. A foot or so off would be lying a 
piece of meat, or a bone. 

" The crows would very soon discover the bone, and 
collecting round in a circle, would discuss the proba- 
bilities of the lynx only shamming, and the chances of 
stealing his dinner. The animal would take no notice 
whatever, but lie there looking so limp and dead, that 
at last one crow would make so bold as to come forward. 
The others let it do so alone, knowing that afterwards 
there would be a free fight for the plunder, and the 
thief, probably, not enjoy it, after all. So the delegate 
would advance with all the caution of a crow and 
nothing exceeds it until within seizing distance. There 
it would stop, flirt its wings nervously, stoop, take a 
last long look at the lynx to make sure that it really 
was asleep, and then dart like lightning at the bone. 
But, if the crow was as quick as lightning, the lynx was 
as swift as thought, and lo ! the next instant there was 
the beast sitting up with the bird in its mouth ! . . . 

" Next time it had to practise a completely different 
manoeuvre. The same crows are not to be 'humbugged ' 
a second time by a repetition of the being-dead trick. 
So the lynx, when a sufficient number of the birds had 
assembled, would take the string in its mouth, and run 
round and round the stake, at the extreme limit of its 
tether, as if it were tied. The crows, after their im- 
pudent fashion, would close in. They thought they knew 
the exact circumference of the animal's circle, and getting 
as close to the dangerous line as possible, without actually 
transgressing it, would mock and abuse the supposed be- 
tethercd brute. But all of a sudden, the circling lynx 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 131 

would fly out at a tangent, right into the thick of his black 
tormentors, and, as a rule, bag a brace, right and left." 

Topsell gives some curious particulars of the Fox, and, 
speaking of their earths, he says : " These dens have 
many caves in them, and passages in and out, that when 
the Terrars shall set upon him in the earth, he may go 
forth some other way, and forasmuch as the Wolfe is an 
enemy to the Foxe, he layeth in the mouth of his den, 
an Herbe (called Sea-onyon) which is so contrary to the 
nature of a Wolfe, and he so greatly terrified therewith, 
that hee will never come neere the place where it groweth, 
or lyeth ; the same is affirmed of the Turtle to save her 
young ones, but I have not read that Wolves will prey 
upon Turtles, and therefore we reject that as a fable. . . . 
If a Foxe eat any meat wherein are bitter Almondes, they 
die thereof, if they drinke not presently : and the same 
thing do Aloes in their meate worke uppon them, as 
Scaliger affirmeth upon his owne sighte or knowledge. 
Apocynon or Bear-foot given to dogs, wolves, Foxes, and 
all other beasts which are littered blind, in fat, or any 
other meat, killeth them, if vomit helpe them not, which 
falleth out very seldome, and the seeds of this hearbe 
have the same operation. It is reported by Democritus, 
that, if wilde rue be secretly hunge under a Hen's wing, 
no Fox will meddle with her, and the same writer also 
declareth for approoved, that, if you mingle the gal of a 
Fox, or a Cat, with their ordinary foode, they shall re- 
maine free from the danger of these beasts. 

" The medicinall uses of this beast are these : first, (as 
Pliny, and Marcel/us affirme) a Fox sod in water until 
nothing of the Foxe be left whole except the bones, and 
the Legges, or other parts of a gouty body, washed, and 
daily bathed therein, it shall drive away all paine and 



i 3 2 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

gricfe strengthening the defective and weake members ; 
so also it cureth all the shrinking up and paines in the 
sinnewes : and Galen attributeth the same vertue to an 
Hycena sod in Oyle, and the lame person bathed therein, 
for it hath such power to evacuate and draw forth what- 
soever evill humour aboundeth in the body of man, that 
it leaveth nothing hurtfull behinde. 

" Neverthelesse, such bodies are soon againe re- 
plenished through evill dyet, and relapsed into the same 
disease againe. The Fox may be boyled in fresh or 
salt water with annise and time, and with his skin on 
whole, and not slit, or else his head cut off, there being 
added to the decoction two pintes of oyle. 

" The flesh of a Foxe sod and layed to afore bitten by 
a Sea hare, it cureth and healeth the same. The Foxe's 
skinne is profitable against all moyste fluxes in the skinne 
of the bod}', and also the gowt, and cold in the sinnewes. 
The ashes of Foxe's flesh burnt and drunk in wine, is 
profitable against the shortnesse of breath and stoppings 
of the liver. 

" The blood of a Foxe dissected, and taken forth of 
his urine alive, and so drunk, breaketh the stone in the 
bladder, or else (as Myrepsus saieth) kill the Foxe, and 
take the blood, and drink a Cupfull thereof, and after- 
ward with the same wash the parts, and, within an 
houre the stone shall be voyded : the same vertue is in 
it being drycd and drunke in wine with sugar. 

" Oxycraton and Foxes blood infused into the Nostrils 
of a lethargick Horsse, cureth him. The fat is next to 
a Bui's and a Swine's, so that the fat or larde of Swine 
may be used for the fat of Foxes, and the fat of Foxes 
for the Swines grease in medicine. Some do herewith 
annoynte the places which have the Crampe, and all 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 133 

trembling and shaking members. The fatte of a Foxe 
and a Drake enclosed in the belly of a Goose, and so 
rested, with the dripping that commeth from it, they 
annoynt paralyticke members. 

"The same, with powder of Vine twigs mollified and 
sod in lye, attenuateth, and bringeth downe, all swelling 
tumours of the flesh. The fat alone healeth the Alopecias 
and looseness of the haire ; it is commended in the cure 
of all sores and ulcers of the head, but the gall, and 
time, with Mustard-seede is more approved. The fat is 
also respected for the cure of paine in the eares, if it be 
warmed and melt at the fire, and so instilled ; and this 
is used against tingling in the eares. If the Haires rot 
away on a Horse's taile, they recover them againe, by 
washing the place with urine and branne, with Wyne 
and Oyle, and afterward annoynt it with foxe's grease. 
When sores or ulcers have procured the haire to fall off 
from the heade, take the head of a young foxe burned with 
the leaves of blacke Orchanes and Alcyonium, and the 
powder cast upon the head recovereth againe the haire. 

" If the braine be often given to infants and sucking 
children, it maketh them that they shall remaine free from 
the falling evill. Pliny prescribeth a man which twinkleth 
with his eies, and cannot looke stedfastly, to weare in 
a chaine, the tongue of a foxe ; and Marcellus biddeth to 
cut out the tongue of a live foxe, and to turne him away, 
and hang uppe that tongue to dry in purple thred, and, 
afterward put it about his necke that is troubled with 
the whitenesse of the eies, and it shall cure him. 

" But it is more certainely affirmed, that the tongue, 
either dryed, or greene, layed to the flesh wherein is 
any Dart or other sharpe head, it draweth them forth 
violently, and rendeth not the flesh, but, only where it is 



i 3 4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

entred. The liver dryed, and drunke cureth often sigh- 
ing. The same, or the lights drunke in blacke Wine, 
openeth the passages of breathing. The same washed 
in Wyne, and dryed in an earthen pot in an Oven, and, 
afterward, seasoned with Sugar, is the best medicine in 
the world for an old cough, for it hath bin approved to 
cure it, although it hath continued twenty years, drink- 
ing every day two sponfuls in Wine. 

" The lightes of foxes drunke in Water after they have 
beene dryed into powder, helpeth the Melt, and Myrepsus 
affirmeth, that when he gave the same powder to one 
almost suffocated in a pleurisie it prevailed for a remedy. 
Archigene prescribeth the dried liver of a Fox for the 
Spleneticke with Oxymell : and Marcellinus for the Melt, 
drunke after the same manner ; and Sextus adviseth to 
drinke it simply without composition of Oxymell. The 
gall of a Foxe instilled into the eares with Oyle, cureth 
the paine in them, and, mixed with Hony Atticke, and 
annointed upon the eies, taketh away al dimnes from 
them, after an admirable manner. The melt, bound 
upon the tumors, and bunches of the brest, cureth the 
Melt in man's body. The reynes dried and mingled 
with Honie, being anointed uppon Kernels, take them 
away. For the swelling of the Chaps, rub the reines 
of a Fox within the mouth. The dung, pounded with 
Vineger, by annointment cureth the Leprosie speedily. 
These and such other vertues medicinal, both the elder 
and later Phisitians have observed in a Fox, wherewithal 
we wil conclude this discourse." 

THE WOLF. 

The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror 
peculiarly its own ; when solitary, it is not much dreaded 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 135 

by, and generally shrinks from, man, but, united by hunger 
into packs, they are truly to be dreaded, for they spare 
nor man nor beast. They lie, too, under the imputation of 
magic, and have done so from a very early age. Their 
cunning, instinct, or reasoning powers, are almost as 
well developed as in the fox, and, of all the authorities 
I have consulted, the one best fitted to discourse upon 
the Wolf and his peculiarities is Topsell, and here is one 
of their idiosyncrasies : 

" It is said that Wolves doe also eate a kind of earth 
called Argilla, which they doe not for hunger, but to 
make their bellies waigh heavy, to the intent, that when 
they set upon a Horsse, an Oxe, a Hart, an Elke, or 
some such strong beast, they may waigh the heavier, 
and hang fast at their throates till they have pulled them 
downe, for by vertue of that tenacious earth, their teeth 
are sharpened, and the waight of their bodies encreased ; 
but, when they have killed the beast that they set upon, 
before they touch any part of his flesh, by a kind of 
natural vomit, they disgorge themselves, and empty their 
bellies of the earth, as unprofitable food. . . . 

" They also devoure Goates and Swyne of all sortes, 
except Bores, who doe not easily yeald unto Wolves. 
It is said that a Sow, hath resisted a Wolfe, and when 
he fighteth with her, hee is forced to use his greatest 
craft and suttelty, leaping to and from her with his best 
activity, least she should lay her teeth upon him, and so 
at one time deceive him of his prey, and deprive him of 
his life. It is reported of one that saw a Wolfe in a 
Wood, take in his mouth a peece of Timber of some 
thirty or forty pound waight, and with that he did 
practise to leape over the trunke of a tree that lay upon 
the earth ; at length, when he perceived his own ability 



136 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

and dexterity in leaping with that waight in his mouth, 
he did there make his cave, and lodged behinde that 
tree ; at last, it fortuned there came a wild Sow to seeke 
for meat along by that tree, with divers of her pigs 
following her, of different age, some a yeare olde, some 
halfe a yeare, and some lesse. When he saw them 
neare him, he suddenly set upon one of them, which he 
conjectured was about the waite of Wood which he 
carried in his mouth, and when he had taken him, 
whilest the old Sow came to deliver her pig at his first 
crying, he suddenly leaped over the tree with the pig 
in his mouth, and so was the poore Sow beguiled of her 
young one, for she could not leape after him, and yet 
might stand and see the Wolfe to eate the pigge, which 
hee had taken from her. It is also sayd, that when they 
will deceive Goates, they come unto them with the greene 
leaves and small boughes of Osiers in their mouthes, 
wherewithall they know Goats are delighted, that so 
they may draw them therewith, as to a baite, to devour 
them. 

" Their maner is, when they fal upon a Goat or a Hog, 
or some such other beast of smal stature, not to kil 
them, but to lead them by the eare with al the speed 
they can drive them, to their fellow Wolves, and, if the 
beast be stubborne, and wil not runne with him, then he 
beateth his hinder parts with his taile, in the mean time 
holding his ear fast in his mouth, whereby he causeth 
the poore beast to run as fast, or faster than himselfe 
unto the place of his owne execution, where he findeth a 
crew of ravening Wolves to entertaine him, who, at his 
first appearance seize upon him, and, like Divels teare 
him in peeces in a moment, leaving nothing uneaten but 
onely his bowels. . . . 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 137 

" Now although there be a great difference betwixt him 
and a Bui, both in strength and stature, yet he is not 
affraid to adventure combat, trusting in his policy more 
than his vigor, for when he setteth upon a Bui, he com- 
meth not upon the front for feare of his homes, nor yet 
behind him for feare of his heeles, but first of al standeth 
a loofe from him, with his glaring eyes, daring and pro- 
voking the Bui, making often profers to come neere unto 
him, yet is wise enough to keepe a loofe till he spy 
his advauntage, and then he leapeth suddenly upon the 
backe of the Bui at the one side, and being so ascended, 
taketh such hold, that he killeth the beast, before he 
loosen his teeth. It is also worth the observation, how 
he draweth unto him a Calfe that wandereth from the 
dam, for by singular treacherie he taketh him by the nose, 
first drawing him forwarde, and then the poore beast 
striveth and draweth backward, and thus they struggle 
togither, one pulling one way, and the other another, till 
at last the Wolfe perceiving advantage, and feeling when 
the Calfe pulleth heavyest, suddenly he letteth go his 
hold, whereby the poore beast falleth backe upon his 
buttocks, and so downe right upon his backe; then 
flyeth the Wolfe to his belly which is then his upper 
part, and easily teareth out his bowels, so satisfieng his 
hunger and greedy appetite. 

" But, if they chance to see a Beast in the water, or in 
the marsh, encombred with mire, they come round about 
him, stopping up al the passages where he shold come 
out, baying at him, and threatning him, so as the poore 
distressed Oxe plungeth himselfe many times over head 
and eares, or at the least wise they so vex him in the 
mire, that they never suffer him to come out alive. At 
last, when they perceive him to be dead, and cleane 



138 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

without life by suffocation, it is notable to observe their 
singular subtilty to drawe him out of the mire, whereby 
they may eat him ; for one of them goeth in, and taketh 
the beast by the taile, who draweth with al the power 
he can, for wit without strength may better kill a live 
Beast, than remove a dead one out of the mire ; there- 
fore, he looketh behind him, and calleth for more helpe ; 
then, presently another of the wolves taketh that first 
wolve's tail in his mouth, and a third wolf the second's, 
a fourth the third's, a fift the fourth, and so forward, 
encreasing theyr strength, until they have pulled the 
beast out into the dry lande. Sextus saith that, in case 
a Wolf do see a man first, if he have about him the tip 
of a Wolfs taile, he shal not neede to feare anie harme. 
All domestical Foure footed beasts, which see the eie of 
a wolfe in the hand of a man, will presently feare and 
runne away. 

" If the taile of a wolfe be hung in the cratch of Oxen, 
they can never eat their meate. If a horse tread upon 
the foote steps of a Wolfe, which is under a Horse-man 
or Rider, hee breaketh in peeces, or else standeth amazed. 
If a wolfe treadeth in the footsteps of a horse which 
draweth a waggon, he cleaveth fast in the rode, as if he 
were frozen. 

" If a Mare with foale, tread upon the footsteps of a 
wolfe, she casteth her foal, and therefore the Egyptians, 
when they signifie abortment doe picture a mare treading 
upon a wolf's foot. These and such other things are 
reported, (but I cannot tell how true) as supernaturall 
accidents in wolves. The wolfe also laboureth to over- 
come the Leoparde, and followeth him from place to 
place, but, for as much as they dare not adventure upon 
him single, or hand to hand, they gather multitudes, and 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 139 

so devoure them. When wolves set upon wilde Bores, 
although they bee at variance amonge themselves, yet 
they give over their mutual combats, and joyne together 
against the Wolfe their common adversarie. 

" And this is the nature of this beast, that he feareth 
no kind of weapon except a stone, for, if a stone be cast 
at him, he presently falleth downe to avoide the stroke, 
for it is saide that in that place of his body where he 
is wounded by a stone, there are bred certaine wormes 
which doe kill and destroie him. ... As the Lyon is 
afraide of a white Cocke and a Mouse, so is the wolfe 
of a Sea crab, or shrimp. It is said that the pipe of 
Pithocaris did represse the violence of wolves when 
they set upon him, for he sounded the same unperfectly, 
and indistinctly, at the noise whereof the raging wolfe 
ran away ; and it hath bin beleeved that the voice of a 
singing man or woman worketh the same effect. 

" Concerning the enimies of wolves, there is no doubt 
but that such a ravening beast hath fewe friends, . . . 
for this cause, in some of the inferiour beasts their hatred 
lasteth after death, as many Authors have observed ; for, 
if a sheepe skinne be hanged up with a wolves's skin, 
the wool falleth off from it, and, if an instrument be 
stringed with stringes made of both these beasts the one 
will give no sounde in the presence of the other. " 

Here we have had all the bad qualities of the Wolf 
depicted in glowing colours ; but, as a faithful historian, 
I must show him also under his most favourable aspect 
notably in two instances one the she-wolf that suckled 
Romulus and Remus, and the other who watched so 
tenderly over the head of the Saxon Edmund, King and 
Martyr, after it had been severed from his body by the 
Danes, and contemptuously thrown by them into a thicket. 



i 4 o CURIOUS CRKATURES. 

His mourning followers found the body, but searched 
for some time for the head, without success ; although 
they made the woods resound with their cries of " Where 
artow, Edward ? " After a few days' search, a voice 
answered their inquiries, with " Here, here, here." And, 
guided by the supernatural voice, they came upon the 
King's head, surrounded by a glory, and watched over, so 
as to protect it from all harm by a WOLF! The head 
was applied deftly to the body, which it joined naturally ; 
indeed, so good a job was it, that the junction could only 
be perceived by a thin red, or purple, line. 

It must be said of this wolf, that he was thorough, for 
not content with having preserved the head of the Saintly 
King from harm, he meekly followed the body to St. 
Edmund's Bury, and waited there until the funeral ; 
when he quietly trotted back, none hindering him, to the 
forest. 

WERE-WOLVES. 

But of all extraordinary stories connected with the 
Wolf, is the belief which existed for many centuries, (and 
in some parts of France still does exist, under the form 
of the " Loup-garou,") and which is mentioned by many 
classical authors Marcellus Sidetes, Virgil, Herodotus, 
Pomponius Mela, Ovid, Pliny, Petronius, &c. of men 
being able to change themselves into wolves. This was 
called Lycanthropy, from two Greeks words signifying 
wolf, and man, and those who were thus gifted, were 
dignified by the name of Versipellis, or able to change 
the skin. It must be said, however, for Pliny, amongst 
classical authors, that although he panders sufficiently 
to popular superstition to mention Lycanthropy, and 
quotes from others some instances of it, yet he writes : 



CURIOUS CREATURES. i 4 t 

" It is really wonderful to what a length the credulity of 
the Greeks will go ! There is no falsehood, if ever so 
barefaced, to which some of them cannot be found to 
bear testimony." 

This curious belief is to be found in Eastern writings, 
and it was especially at home with the Scandinavian 
and Teutonic nations. It is frequently mentioned in the 
Northern Sagas but space here forbids more than just 
saying that the best account of these eigi einhamir (not 
of one skin) is to be found in The Book of Were-Wolves, 
by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould. 

The name of Were Wolf, or Wehr Wolf, is derived 
thus, according to Mr. Gould : " Vargr is the same as 
u-argr, restless ; argr being the same as the Anglo- 
Saxon earg. Vargr had its double signification in 
Norse. It signified a Wolf, and also a godless man. 
This vargr is the English were, in the word were-wolf, 
and the garou or varou in French. The Danish word 
for were-wolf is var-ulf, the Gothic, vaira-ulf" Lycan- 
thropy was a widespread belief, but it gradually dwindled 
down in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to those 
eigi einhamir, the witches who would change themselves 
into hares, &c. 

Olaus Magnus tells us Of the Fiercenesse of Men who 
by Charms are turned into Wolves : " In the Feast of 
Christ's Nativity, in the night, at a certain place, that they 
are resolved upon amongst themselves, there is gathered 
together such a huge multitude of Wolves changed from 
men, that dwell in divers places, which afterwards the 
same night doth so rage with wonderfull fiercenesse, both 
against mankind, and other creatures that are not fierce 
by nature, that the Inhabitants of that country suffer 
more hurt from them than ever they do from the true 



i 4 2 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

natural Wolves. For as it is proved, they set upon the 
houses of men that are in the Woods, with wonderfull 
fiercenesse, and labour to break down the doors, whereby 
they may destroy both men and other creatures that 
remain there. 

" They go into the Beer-Cellars, and there they drink 
out some Tuns of Beer or Mede, and they heap al the 
empty vessels one upon another in the midst of the 
Cellar, and so leave them : wherein they differ from 
natural and true Wolves. But the place, where, by 
chance they stayd that night, the Inhabitants of those 
Countries think to be prophetical : Because, if any ill 
successe befall a Man in that place ; as, if his Cart over- 
turn, and he be thrown down in the Snow, they are 
fully perswaded that man must die that year, as they 
have for many years proved it by experience. Between 
Lituania, Samogetia, and Curonia, there is a certain wall 
left, of a Castle that was thrown down ; to this, at a set 
time, some thousands of them come together, that each 
of them may try his nimblenesse in leaping. He that 
cannot leap over this wall, as commonly the fat ones 
cannot, are beaten with whips by their Captains. 

" And it is constantly affirmed that amongst that multi- 
tude there are the great men, and chiefest Nobility of 
the Land. The reason of this metamorphosis, that is 
exceeding contrary to Nature, is given by one skilled in 
this witchcraft, by drinking to one in a Cup of Ale, and 
by mumbling certain words at the same time, so that 
he who is to be admitted into that unlawful Society, do 
accept it. Then, when he pleaseth, he may change his 
humane form, into the form of a Wolf entirely, going 
into some private Cellar, or secret Wood. Again, he 
can, after some time put off the same shape he took 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 143 

upon him, and resume the form he had before at his 
pleasure. . . . 

" But for to come to examples ; When a certain Noble- 
man took a long journey through the Woods, and had 
many servile Country-fellows in his Company, that were 
acquainted with this witchcraft, (as there are many such 
found in those parts) the day was almost spent; where- 
fore he must lie in the Woods, for there was no Inne 
neare that place ; and withall they were sore pinched 
with hunger and want. Last of all, one of the Company 
propounded a seasonable proposall, that the rest must 
be quiet, and if they saw any thing they must make no 
tumulte ; that he saw afar off a flock of sheep feeding ; 
he would take care that, without much labor, they should 
have one of them to rost for Supper. Presently he goes 
into a thick Wood that no man might see him, and there 
he changed his humane shape like to that of a Wolf. 
After this he fell upon the flock of sheep with all his 
might, and he took one of them that was running back 
to the Wood, and then he came to the Chariot in the 
form of a Wolf, and brought the sheep to them. His 
companions being conscious how he stole it, receive it 
with grateful mind, and hide it close in the Chariot ; but 
he that had changed himself into a Wolf, went into the 
Wood again, and became a Man. 

" Also in Livonia not many years since, it fell out that 
there was a dispute between a Nobleman's wife and his 
servant, (of which they have plenty more in that Country, 
than in any Christian Land) that men could not be 
turned into Wolves ; whereupon he brake forth into this 
speech, that he would presently shew her an example of 
that businesse, so he might do it with her permission : 
he goes alone into the cellar, and, presently after, he 



M4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

came forth in the form of a Wolf. The dogs ran after 
him through the fields to the wood, and they bit out one 
of his eyes, though he defended himself stoutly enough. 
The next day he came with one eye to his Lady. Lastly, 
as is yet fresh in memory, how the Duke of Prussia, 
giving small credit to such a Witchcraft, compelled one 
who was cunning in this Sorcery, whom he held in 
chains, to change himself into a Wolf; and he did so. 
Yet that he might not go unpunished for this Idolatry, 
he afterwards caused him to be burnt. For such hein- 
ous offences are severely punished both by Divine and 
Humane Laws." 

Zahn, on the authority of Trithemius, who wrote in 
1335, says that men having the spine elongated after the 
manner of a tail were Were-wolves. Topsell takes a 
more sensible view of the matter : " There is a certaine 
territorie in Ireland (whereof M. Cambdcn writeth) that 
the inhabitants which live till they be past fifty yeare 
old, are foolishly reported to be turned into wolves, the 
true cause whereof he conjectureth to be, because for 
the most part they are vexed with the disease called 
Lycanthropia, which is a kind of melancholy, causing the 
persons so affected, about the moneth of February, to 
forsake their owne dwelling or houses, and to run out 
into the woodes, or neare the graves and sepulchers of 
men, howling and barking like Dogs and Wolves. The 
true signes of this disease are thus described by Marcellus : 
those, saith he, which are thus affected, have their faces 
pale, their eies dry and hollow, looking drousily and 
cannot weep. Their tongue as if it were al scab'd, 
being very rough, neither can they spit, and they are 
very thirsty, having many ulcers breaking out of their 
bodies, especially on their legges ; this disease some cal 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 145 

Lycaon, and men oppressed therewith, Lycaones, because 
that there was one Lycaon, as it is fained by the poets, 
who, for his wickednes in sacrificing of a child, was by 
Jupiter turned into a Wolf, being utterly distracted of 
human understanding, and that which the poets speake 
of him. And this is most strange, that many thus 
diseased should desire the graves of the dead." 



THE ANTELOPE. 

When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the 
artists of old drew somewhat upon their imaginations for 




their facts, as is the case with this Antelope, of which 
Topsell gives the following description : " They are 



i 4 6 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

bred in India, and Syria, neere the River Euphrates, and 
delight much to drinke of the cold water thereof. Their 
bodie is like the body of a Roe, and they have homes 
growing forthe of the crowne of their head, which are 
very long and sharpe ; so that Alexander affirmed that 
they pierced through the sheeldes of his Souldiers, and 
fought with them very irefully : at which time his com- 
pany slew as he travelled to India, eight thousand, five 
hundred, and fifty ; which great slaughter may be the 
occasion why they are so rare, and seldome scene to 
this day, by cause thereby the breeders, and meanes of 
their continuance (which consisted in their multitude) 
were weakened and destroyed. Their homes are great, 
and made like a saw, and they, with them, can cut 
asunder the braunches of Osier, or small trees, whereby 
it commeth to passe that many times their necks are 
taken in the twists of the falling boughes, whereat the 
Beast with repining cry, bewrayeth himselfe to the 
Hunters, and so is taken. The vertues of this Beast 
are unknowne, and therefore Suidas sayth an Antalope 
is but good in part." 

THE HORSE. 

Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, 
which the artist has drawn with the slashed trunk 
breeches of the time. He says that Fincclius, quoting 
Licosthenes, mentions that this animal had its skin thus 
slashed, from its birth, and was to be seen about the 
year 1555. Its skin was as thick as sole-leather. It 
was, probably, an ideal Zebra. 

Topsell gives us some fine horse-lore, especially as 
to their love for their masters : " Homer seemeth also 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 147 

to affirme that there are in Horsses divine qualityes, 
understanding things to come, for, being tyed to their 
mangers they mournd for the death of Patroclus, and 
also shewed Achilles what should happen unto him ; 
for which cause Pliny saieth of them that they lament 
their lost maisters with teares, and foreknow battailes. 
Accursius affirmeth that Ccesar three daies before he 
died, found his ambling Nag weeping in the stable, 




which was a token of his ensewing death, which thing 
I should not beleeve, except Tranquillus in the life of 
Ccesar, had related the same thing, and he addeth more- 
over, that the Horsses which were consecrated to Mars 
for passing over Rubicon, being let to run wilde abroad, 
without their maisters, because no man might meddle 
with the horses of the Gods, were found to weepe abun- 
dantly, and to abstaine from all meat. 

" Horsses are afraid of Elephants in battaile, and like- 



i 4 8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

wise of a Cammell, for which cause when Cyrus fought 
against Crcesus, he overthrew his Horse by the sight of 
Camels, for a horse cannot abide to looke upon a Camell. 
If a Horse tread in the footpath of a Wolfe, he presently 
falleth to be astonished ; Likewise, if two or more draw- 
ing a Charriot, come into the place where a Wolfe hath 
trod, they stand so still as if the Charriot and they were 
frozen to the earth, sayth ^Elianus and Pliny. jEscu- 
lapius also affirmeth the same thing of a Horsse treading 
in a Beare's footsteppes, and assigneth the reason to be 
in some secret, betweene the feete of both beastes. . . . 

" Al kind of Swine are enemies to Horses, the Estridge 
also, is so feared of a Horse, that the Horsse dares not 
appeare in his presence. The like difference also is 
betwixt a Horse, and a Beare. There is a bird which 
is called Anclorus, which neyeth like a Horse, flying 
about ; the Horse doth many times drive it away ; but 
because it is somewhat blind, and cannot see perfectly, 
therefore the horsse doth oftentimes ketch it, and 
devoure it, hating his owne voice in a creature so unlike 
himself. 

"It is reported by Aristotle, that the Bustard loveth a 
Horsse exceedingly, for, seeing other Beastes feeding 
in the pastures, dispiseth and abhorreth them ; but, as 
soone as ever it seeth a Horsse, it flyeth unto him for 
joy, although the Horsse run away from it : and, there- 
fore, the Egyptians, when they see a weake man driving 
away a stronger, they picture a Bustard flying to a 
Horsse. . . . 

"Julius Cccsar had a horsse which had cloven hooves 
like a man's fingers, and because he was foaled at that 
time when the sooth-saycrs had pronounced that hee 
should have the government of the world, therefore he 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 149 

nourished him carefully, and never permitted any man 
to backe him but himselfe, which he afterwards dedi- 
cated in the Temple of Venus. . . . 

" If one do cut the vaines of the pallet of a horse's 
mouth, and let it runne downe into his belly, it will 
presently destroy and consume the maw, or belly worms, 
which are within him. The Marrow of a horse is also 
very good to loosen the sinewes which are knit and 
fastned together, but first let it be boiled in wine, and 
afterwards be made cold, and then anointed warmly 
either by the Fire, or Sun. The teeth of a male horse 
not gelded, or by any labor made feeble, being put under 
the head, or over the head of him that is troubled or 
startleth in his dreame, doth withstand and resist all 
unquietnes which in the time of his rest might happen 
unto him. The teeth also of a horse is verye profitable 
for the curing of the Chilblanes which are rotten and 
full of corruption when, they are swollen full ripe. The 
teeth which do, first of all, fall from horses, being bound 
or fastned upon children in their infancie, do very easily 
procure the breeding of the teeth, but with more speed, 
and more effectually, if they have never touched the 
ground. . . . 

" If you anoint a combe with the foame of a horse, 
wherewith a young man or youth doth use to comb his 
head, it is of such force as it will cause the haire of his 
head neither to encrease or any whit to appeare. The 
foame of a horse is also very much commended for them 
which have either pain or difficulty of hearing in their 
ears, or else the dust of horse dung, being new made 
and dryed, and mingled with oyle of Roses. The griefe 
or soreness of a man's mouth or throat, being washed 
or annointed with the foame of a Horse, which hath bin 



i 5 o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

fed with Gates or barly, doth presently expell the paine 
of the Sorenesse, if so be that it be 2 or 3 times 
washed over with the juyce of young or greene Sea- 
crabs beaten small together." But I could fill pages 
with remedial recipes furnished by the horse. 



THE MIMICK DOG. 

"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, 
meant for a poodle. It was " apt to imitate al things it 
seeth, for which cause some have thought that it was 
conceived by an Ape, for in wit and disposition it 




resembleth an Ape, but in face, sharpe and blacke like 
an Hedgehog, having a short recurved body, very long 
legs, shaggy haire, and a short taile : this is called of 
some Cam's Lucernarius. These being brought up with 
apes in their youth, learne very admirable and strange 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 151 

feats, whereof there were great plenty in Egypt in the 
time of king Ptolemy, which were taught to leap, play, 
and dance, at the hearing of musicke, and in many poore 
men's houses they served insteed of servaunts for divers 
uses. 

" These are also used by Plaiers and Puppet-Mimicks 
to worke straunge trickes, for the sight whereof they get 
much money ; such an one was the Mimick's dog, of 
which Plutarch writeth that he saw in a publicke spec- 
tacle at Rome before the Emperor Vespasian. The dog 
was taught to act a play, wherein were contained many 
persons' parts, I mean the affections of many other 
dogs ; at last, there was given him a piece of bread, 
wherein, as was saide, was poison, having vertue to 
procure a dead sleepe, which he received and swallowed ; 
and presently, after the eating thereof, he began to reele 
and stagger too and fro like a drunken man, and fell 
downe to the ground, as if he had bin dead, and so 
laie a good space, not stirring foot nor lim, being drawne 
uppeand downe by divers persons, according as the gesture 
of the play he acted did require, but when he perceived 
by the time, and other signes that it was requisite to 
arise, he first opened his eies, and lift up his head a 
little, then stretched forth himself, like as one doth 
when he riseth from sleepe; at last he geteth up. and 
runneth to him to whom that part belonged, not without 
the joy, and good content of Ccesar and all other 
beholders. 

" To this may be added another story of a certaine 
Italian about the yeare 1403, called Andrew, who had a 
red Dog with him, of strange feats, and yet he was 
blind. For standing in the Market place compassed 
about with a circle of many people, there were brought 



1 52 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

by the slanders by, many Rings, Jewels, bracelets, and 
peeces of gold and silver, and these, within the circle 
were covered with earth, then the dog was bid to seeke 
them out, who with his nose and feet did presently find 
and discover them, then was hee also commaunded to give 
to every one his owne Ring, Jewell, Bracelet, or money, 
which the blind dog did performe directly without stay 
or doubt. Afterward, the slanders by, gave unto him 
divers pieces of coine, stamped wilh Ihe images of 
sundry princes, and Ihen one of them called for a piece 
of English money, and the Dog delivered him a piece ; 
another for Ihe Emperor's coine, and Ihe dog delivered 
him a piece Ihereof ; and so consequenlly, every princes 
coine by name, lill all was reslored ; and Ihis slory is 
recorded by Abbas Urspergensis, where upon Ihe common 
people said, Ihe dog was a divell, or else possessed wilh 
some pylhonicall spiril." 

It is curious to nole some of the remedies against 
hydrophobia and I only give a portion of the long 
list. 

" For the outward compound remedies, a plaisler 
made of Opponax and Pitch, is much commended, which 
Alcnipptis used, taking a pound of Pitch of Brutias, and 
foure ounces of Opponax, adding wilhall, lhat the Opponax 
must be dissolved in vinegar, and afterwards Ihe Pilch 
and Ihe vinegar musl be boiled logelher, and when Ihe 
vinegar is consumed, then put in the Opponax, and of 
both logether make like taynlers or splinls, and Ihrusl 
them into the wound, so lei Ihem remaine many dayes 
together, and in the meane time drinke an antidot of 
sea crabs and vineger, (for vineger is alvvay prelious in 
this confection). Other use Basilica, Onyons, Rue, Salt, 
Rust of Iron, white bread, seedes of hore hound, and 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 153 

triacle : but the other plaister is most forcible to be 
applyed outwardly, above al medicines in the world. 

" For the simple or uncompounded medicines to be 
taken against this sore, are many : As Goose-grease, the 
roote of Wilde roses drunke ; bitter Almonds, leaves of 
Chickweed, or Pimpernell, the old skinne of a snake 
pounded with a male sea Crab, Betony, Cabbage-leaves, 
or stalkes, with Persneps and vineger, lime and sewet, 
poulder of Sea-Crabs with Hony ; poulder of the shels 
of Sea- Crabs, the haires of a Dog layed on the wound, 
the head of the Dog which did bite, mixed with a little 
Euphorbium; the haire of a man with vineger, dung 
of Goates with wine, Walnuts with Hony and salte, 
poulder of fig tree in a sear cloth, Fitches in wine, 
Euphorbium, warme horse-dung, raw beanes chewed in 
the mouth, fig tree leaves, greene figs with vineger, 
fennel stalkes, Gentians, dung of pullen, the Lyver of a 
Buck-goate, young swallowes, burned to poulder, also 
their dung ; the urine of a man, an Hyaena's skin, flower 
de luce with honey, a Sea hearb called Kakille, Silphum 
with salt, the flesh and shels of snayles, leeke seeds with 
salt, mints, the taile of a field mouse cut off from her 
alive, and she suffered to live, rootes of Burres, with salt 
of the Sea plantaine, the tongue of a Ramme with salt, 
the flesh of al Sea- fishes, the fat of a sea-Calfe and 
Vervine, besides many other superstitious amulets which 
are used to be bound to the Armes, neckes, and brests, 
as the Canine tooth bound up in a leafe, and tyed to the 
Arme. A worme bred in the dung of Dogges, hanged 
about the necke, the roots of Gentian in an Hyaena's 
skin, or young Wolfe's Skin, and such like ; whereof I 
know no reason beside the opinion of men." 

Let us now see what medicinal properties exist in dogs 



154 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

themselves ; and, here again, I must very much curtail 
the recital of their benefits to mankind. 

" The vertues of a Dog's head made into poulder, are 
both many and unspeakable, by it is the biting of mad 
dogs cured, it cureth spots, and bunches in the head, 
and a plaister thereof made with Oyle of Roses, healeth 
the running in the head. The poulder of the teeth of 
Dogges, maketh Children's teeth to come forth with speed 
and easie, and, if their gums be rub'd with a dog's tooth, 
it maketh them to have the sharper teeth ; and the 
poulder of these Dogs teeth rubbed upon the Gummes 
of young or olde, easeth toothache, and abateth swelling 
in the gummes. The tongue of a Dogge, is most whole- 
some both for the curing of his owne wounds by licking, 
as also of any other creature. The rennet of a Puppy 
drunke with Wine, dissolveth the Collicke in the same 
houre wherein it was drunke," &c., &c., &c. 



THE CAT. 

Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, 
but, beyond saying that it was so afflicted (or ornamented) 
from its birth, he gives no particulars. Topsell, too, is 
singularly silent on the merits of Cats ; but yet he men- 
tions some interesting particulars respecting them : " To 
keepe Cats from hunting of Hens, they use to tie a little 
wild rew under their wings, and so likewise from Dove- 
coates, if they set it in the windowes, they dare not 
approach unto it for some secret in nature. Some have 
said that cats will fight with Serpentes, and Toads, and 
kill them, and, perceiving that she is hurt by them, she 
presently drinketh water, and is cured : but I cannot 
consent unto this opinion. . . . Ponzettus sheweth by 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 155 

experience that cats and Serpents love one another, for 
there was (sayth he) in a certain Monastery, a Cat 
norished by the Monkes, and suddenly the most part 
of the Monkes which used to play with the Cat, fell 
sicke ; whereof the Physitians could find no cause, but 
some secret poyson, and al of them were assured that 
they never tasted any : at the last a poore laboring man 
came unto them, affirming that he saw the Abbey-Cat 
playing with a Serpent, which the Physitians understand- 




ing, presently conceived that the Serpent had emptied 
some of her poyson upon the Cat, which brought the 
same to the Monkes, and they by stroking and handeling 
the Cat, were infected therewith ; and whereas there re- 
mained one difficulty, namely, how it came to passe the 
Cat herself was not poisoned thereby, it was resolved, 
that, forasmuch as the Serpentes poison came from him 
but in playe and sporte, and not in malice and wrath, 
that therefore the venom thereof being lost in play, 



: 5 6 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

neither harmed the Cat at al, nor much endangered the 
Monkes ; and the very like is observed of Myce that will 
play with Serpents. . . . 

" Those which will keepe their Cattes within doores, 
and from hunting Birds abroad, must cut off their eares, 
for they cannot endure to have drops of raine distil into 
them, and therefore keep themselves in harbor. . . . 
They cannot abide the savour of oyntments, but fall 
madde thereby; they are sometimes infected with the 
falling evill, but are cured with Gobiutn." 

THE LION. 

Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many 
wonderful stories, some of them not altogether redound- 
ing to his character for bravery : " A serpent, or snake 
doth easily kill a lion, where of Ambrosius writeth very 
elegantly. Exiniia /corn's pulchritudo, per comantcs ceruicis 
toros excutitur, cum subito a serpcnte os pectore tenus 
attolitur, itaque Coluber cervum fugit sed Lconcm interficit. 
The splendant bcautie of a lion in his long curled mane is 
quickly abated, and allayed, when the serpent doth but lift 
up his head to his brcst. For such is the ordinance of 
God, that the Snake, which runneth from a fearefull 
Hart, should without all feare kill a courageous Lyon ; 
and the writer of Saint Marcellus life, How much more 
will he feare a great Dragon, against whom he hath not 
power to lift up his taile. And Aristotle writeth that the 
Lyon is afraid of the Swine, and Rasis affirmeth as much 
of the mouse. 

" The Cocke also both scene and heard for his voice 
and combe, is a terror to the Lion and Basiliske, and 
the Lyon runneth from him when he seeth him, espe- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 157 

cially from a white cocke, and the reason hereof, is be- 
cause they are both partakers of the Sunnes qualities in 
a high degree, and therefore the greater body feareth the 
lesser, because there is a more eminent and predominant 
sunny propertie in the Cocke, than in the Lion. Lucretius 
describes this terrour notably, affirming that, in the 
morning, when the Cocke croweth, the lions betake them- 
selves to flight, because there are certain seedes in the 
body of Cockes, which when they are sent, and appeare 
to the eyes of Lions, they vexe their pupils and apples, 
and make them, against Nature, become gentle and 
quiet." 

THE LEONTOPHONUS THE PEGASUS THE CROCOTTA. 

The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, 
who says : " We have heard speak of a small animal to 
which the name of Leontophonus^ has been given, and 
which is said to exist only in those countries where the 
Lion is produced. If its flesh is only tasted by the 
Lion, so intensely venomous is its nature, that this lord 
of the other quadrupeds instantly expires. Hence it is 
that the hunters of the Lion burn its body to ashes, 
and sprinkle a piece of flesh with the powder, and so 
kill the Lion by means of its ashes even so fatal to it 
is this poison ! The Lion, therefore, not without reason, 
hates the Leontophonus, and, after destroying its sight, 
kills it without inflicting a bite : the animal, on the other 
hand, sprinkles the Lion with its urine, being well aware 
that this, too, is fatal to it." 

We have read, in the Romances of Chivalry, how 
that Guy, Earl of Warwick, having seen a Lion and a 

1 From Aeovrotfrovos, the Lion Killer. 



158 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Dragon fighting, went to the assistance of the former, 
and, having killed its opponent, the Lion meekly trotted 
after him, and ever after, until its death, was his constant 
companion. How, in the absence of Sir Bevis of 
Hampton, two lions having killed the Steward Boniface, 
and his horse, laid their heads in the fair Josian's lap. 
The old romancists held that a lion would always re- 
spect a virgin, and Spenser has immortalised this in 
his character of Una. Most of us remember the story 
given by Aulus Gellius and ^Elian, of Androcles, who 
earned a lion's gratitude by extracting a thorn from its 
paw, and Pliny gives similar instances : 

" Mentor, a native of Syracuse, was met in Syria by 
a lion, who rolled before him in a suppliant manner ; 
though smitten with fear, and desirous to escape, the 
wild beast on every side opposed his flight, and licked 
his feet with a fawning air. Upon this, Mentor observed 
on the paw of the lion, a swelling and a wound ; from 
which, after extracting a splinter, he relieved the crea- 
ture's pain. 

" In the same manner, too, Elpis, a native of Samos, on 
landing from a vessel on the coast of Africa, observed a 
lion near the beach, opening his mouth in a threatening 
manner ; upon which he climbed a tree, in the hope of 
escaping, while, at the same time, he invoked the aid of 
Father Liber (Bacchus) ; for it is the appropriate time 
for invocations where there is no room left for hope. 
The wild beast did not pursue him when he fled, although 
he might easily have done so ; but, lying down at the 
foot of the tree, by the open mouth which had caused so 
much terror, tried to excite his compassion. A bone, 
while he was devouring his food with too great avidity, 
had stuck fast between his teeth, and he was perishing 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 159 

with hunger ; such being the punishment inflicted upon 
him by his own weapons, every now and then he would 
look up, and supplicate him, as it were, with mute en- 
treaties. Elpis, not wishing to risk trusting himself to 
so formidable a beast, remained stationary for some time, 
more at last from astonishment than from fear. At 
length, however, he descended from the tree, and ex- 
tracted the bone, the lion, in the meanwhile, extending 
his head, and aiding in the operation as far as it was 
necessary for him to do. The story goes on to say, that 
as long as the vessel remained off that coast, the lion 
shewed his sense of gratitude by bringing whatever he 
had chanced to procure in the chase." 

The same author mentions two curious animals, the 
Leucrocotta, and the Eale, which are noticeable among 
other wonders : "Ethiopia produces the lynx in abund- 
ance, and the sphinx, which has brown hair and two 
mammae on the breast, as well as many monstrous kinds 
of a similar nature ; horses with wings, and armed with 
horns, which are called pegasi : the Crocotta, an animal 
which looks as though it had been produced by the union 
of the wolf and the dog, for it can break anything with 
its teeth, and instantly, on swallowing it, it digests it with 
the stomach ; monkeys, too, with black heads, the hair of 
the ass, and a voice quite unlike that of any other animal." 

THE LEUCROCOTTA THE EALE CATTLE FEEDING 
BACKWARDS. 

" There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with 
one horn, and others with three ; the leucrocotta, a wild 
beast of extraordinary swiftness, the size of the wild 
ass, with the legs of a Stag, the neck, tail, and breast of 



r6o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

a lion, the head of a badger, a cloven hoof, the mouth 
slit up as far as the ears, and one continuous bone in- 
stead of teeth ; it is said, too, that this animal can imitate 
the human voice. 

" Among the same people there is found an animal 
called the eale ; it is the size of the river-horse, has 
the tail of the elephant, and is of a black or tawny 
colour. It has, also, the jaws of the wild boar and 
horns that are moveable, and more than a cubit in 
length, so that, in fighting, it can employ them alternately, 
and vary their position by presenting them directly, or 
obliquely, according as necessity may dictate." 

The Eale, with its movable horns, is run hard by 
the Cattle of the Lotophagi, which are thus described by 
Herodotus : " From the Augilae at the end of another 
ten days' journey is another hill of salt and water, and 
many fruit-bearing palm trees, as also in other places ; 
and men inhabit it, who are called Gavamantes, a very 
powerful nation ; they lay earth upon the salt, and then 
sow their ground. From these to the Lotophagi, the 
shortest route is a journey of thirty days : amongst them 
the kine that feed backwards are met with ; they feed 
backwards for this reason. They have horns that 
are bent forward, therefore they draw back as they 
feed ; for they are unable to go forward, because their 
horns would stick in the ground. They differ from 
other kine in no other respect than this, except that their 
hide is thicker and harder." 

ANIMAL MEDICINE. 

We have already seen some of the wonderfully cura- 
tive properties of animals let us learn something of 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 161 

their own medical attainments as described by Pliny. 
" The hippopotamus has even been our instructor in one 
of the operations of medicine. When the animal has 
become too bulky, by continued overfeeding, it goes 
down to the banks of the river, and examines the reeds 
which have been newly cut ; as soon as it has found a 
stump that is very sharp, it presses its body against it, 
and so wounds one of the veins in the thigh ; and by 
the flow of blood thus produced, the body, which would 
otherwise have fallen into a morbid state, is relieved ; 
after which, it covers up the wound with mud. 

" The bird, also, which is called the Ibis, a native of 
the same country of Egypt, has shewn us some things 
of a similar nature. By means of its hooked beak, it 
laves the body through that part by which it is especially 
necessary for health, that the residuous food should be 
discharged. Nor, indeed, are these the only inventions 
which have been borrowed from animals to prove of use 
to man. The power of the herb dittany, in extracting 
arrows, was first disclosed to us by stags that had been 
struck by that weapon ; the weapon being discharged 
on their feeding upon this plant. The same animals, 
too, when they happen to have been wounded by the 
phalangium, a species of spider, or by any insect of a 
similar nature, cure themselves by eating crabs. One 
of the very best remedies for the bite of the serpent, is 
the plant with which lizards treat their wounds when 
injured in fighting with each other. The swallow has 
shown us that the chelidonia is very serviceable to the 
sight, by the fact of its employing it for the cure of its 
young, when their eyes are affected. The tortoise 
recruits its powers of effectually resisting serpents by 
eating the plant which is known as cunile bubula ; and 



1 62 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the weasel feeds on rue, when it fights with the serpent 
in pursuit of mice. The Stork cures itself of its diseases, 
with wild marjoram, and the wild boar with ivy, as also 
by eating crabs, and, more particularly, those that have 
been thrown up by the sea. 

"The snake, when the membrane which covers its 
body, has been contracted by the cold of winter, throws 
it off in the spring, by the aid of the juices of fennel, and 
thus becomes sleek and youthful in appearance. First 
of all it disengages the head, and then it takes no less 
than a day and a night in working itself out, and divest- 
ing itself of the membrane in which it has been enclosed. 
The same animal, too, on finding its sight weakened 
during its winter retreat, anoints and refreshes its eyes 
by rubbing itself on the plant called fennel, or marathrum ; 
but, if any of the scales are slow in coming off, it rubs 
itself against the thorns of the juniper. The dragon 
relieves the nausea which affects it in spring, with the 
juices of the lettuce. The barbarous nations go to hunt 
the panther, provided with meat that has been rubbed 
with Aconite, which is a poison. Immediately on eating 
it, compression of the throat overtakes them, from which 
circumstance it is, that the plant has received the name 
of pardalianches (pard-strangler). The animal, however, 
has found an antidote against this poison in human 
excrements ; besides which, it is so eager to get at 
them, that the shepherds purposely suspend them in a 
vessel, placed so high, that the animal cannot reach 
them, even by leaping, when it endeavours to get at 
them ; accordingly, it continues to leap, until it has 
quite exhausted itself, and at last expires : otherwise, 
it is so tenacious of life that it will continue to fight, 
long after its intestines have been dragged out of its body. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 163 

" When an elephant has happened to devour a chame- 
leon, which is of the same colour with the herbage, 
it counteracts this poison by means of the wild olive. 
Bears, when they have eaten of the fruit of the Man- 
drake, lick up numbers of Ants. The Stag counteracts 
the effect of poisonous plants by eating the artichoke. 
Wood pigeons, jackdaws, blackbirds, and partridges, 
purge themselves once a year by eating bay leaves ; 
pigeons, turtle-doves, and poultry, with wall pellitory, or 
helxine; ducks, geese, and other aquatic birds of a similar 
nature, with the bulrush. The raven, when it has killed 
a chameleon, a contest in which even the conqueror 
suffers, counteracts the poison by means of laurel." 

THE Su. 

Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. 
" There is a region in the new-found world, called 
Gigantes, and the inhabitants thereof, are called Patagones; 
now, because their country is cold, being far in the South, 
they cloath themselves with the skins of a beast called 
in their owne toong Su, for by reason that this beast liveth 
for the most part neere the waters, therefore they cal it 
by the name of Su, which signifieth water. The true image 
thereof, as it was taken by Thenestus, I have heere in- 
serted, for it is of a very deformed shape, and monstrous 
presence, a great ravener, and an untamable wilde beast. 

" When the hunters that desire her skinne, set upon 
her, she flyeth very swift, carrying her yong ones upon 
her back, and covering them with her broad taile ; now, 
for so much as no dogge or man dareth to approach 
neere unto her, (because such is the wrath thereof, that 
in the pursuit she killeth all that commeth near her :) 
The hunters digge severall pittes or great holes in the 



164 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

earth, which they cover with boughes, sticks, and earth, 
so weakly, that if the beast chance at any time to come 
upon it, she, and her young ones fall down into the pit, 
and are taken. 

"This cruell, untamable, impatient, violent, ravening, 
and bloody beast, perceiving that her natural strength 
cannot deliver her from the wit and policy of men, her 
hunters, (for being inclosed, she can never get out 
againe) the hunters being at hand to watch her down- 




fall, and worke her overthrowe, first of all to save her 
young ones from taking and taming, she destroyed! 
them all with her own teeth ; for there was never any 
of them taken alive, and when she seeth the hunters 
come about her, she roareth, cryeth, howleth, brayeth, 
and uttereth such a fearefull, noysome, and terrible 
clamor, that the men which watch to kill her, are not 
thereby a little amazed; but, at last, being animated, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



165 



because there can be no resistance, they approach, and 
with their darts and speares, wound her to death, and 
then take off her skin, and leave the Carcasse in the 
earth. And this is all that I finde recorded of this 

most strange beast." 



THE LAMB-TREE. 

As a change from this awful animal, let us examine 
the Planta Tartarica Borometz which was so graphically 
delineated by Joannes Zahn in 1696. Although this is 
by no means the first picture of it, yet it is the best 
of any I have seen. 

A most interesting book * on the " Vegetable Lamb of 
Tartary " has been written by the late Henry Lee, Esq., at 
one time Naturalist of the Brighton Aquarium, and I am 
much indebted to it for 
matter on the subject, which 
I could not otherwise have 
obtained. 

The word Borometz is 
supposed to be derived 
from a Tartar word signify- 
ing a lamb, and this plant- 
animal was thoroughly be- 
lieved in, many centuries 
ago but there seem to 
have been two distinct 
varieties of plant, that on 
which little lambs were 
found in pods, and that as represented by Zahn, with a 
living lamb attached by its navel to a short stem. This 
stalk was flexible, and allowed the lamb to graze, within 

1 Written to prove that this plant was the Cotton-plant. 




1 66 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

its limits ; but when it had consumed all the grass within 
its reach, or if the stalk was severed, it died. This lamb 
was said to have the actual body, blood, and bones of a 
young sheep, and wolves were very fond of it but, 
luckily for the lamb-tree, these were the only carnivo- 
rous animals that would attack it. 

In his " Histoire Admirable des Plantes " (1605) Claude 
Duret, of Moulins, treats of the Borometz, and says : " I 
remember to have read some time ago, in a very ancient 
Hebrew book entitled in Latin the Talmud leroso- 
lintitanum, and written by a Jewish Rabbi Jochanan, 
assisted by others, in the year of Salvation 436, that a 
certain personage named Moses Chusensis (he being a 
native of Ethiopia) affirmed, on the authority of Rabbi 
Simeon, that there was a certain country of the earth 
which bore a zoophyte, or plant-animal, called in the 
Hebrew Jcduah. It was in form like a lamb, and from 
its navel, grew a stem or root by which this Zoophyte, 
or plant-animal, was fixed attached, like a gourd, to the 
soil below the surface of the ground, and, according to 
the length of its stem or root, it devoured all the herbage 
which it was able to reach within the circle of its tether. 
The hunters who went in search of this creature were 
unable to capture, or remove it, until they had succeeded 
in cutting the stem by well-aimed arrows, or darts, when 
the animal immediately fell prostrate to the earth, and 
died. Its bones being placed with certain ceremonies 
and incantations in the mouth of one desiring to foretell 
the future, he was instantly seized with a spirit of divina- 
tion, and endowed with the gift of prophecy." 

Mr. Lee then says : " As I was unable to find in 
the Latin translation of the Talmud of Jerusalem, the 
passage mentioned by Claude Duret, and was anxious 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 167 

to ascertain whether any reference to this curious legend 
existed in the Talmudical books, I sought the assistance 
of learned members of the Jewish community, and, 
amongst them, of the Rev. Dr. Hermann Adler, Chief 
Rabbi Delegate of the United Congregations of the 
British Empire. He most kindly interested himself in 
the matter, and wrote to me as follows : 'It affords 
me much gratification to give you the information you 
desire on the Borametz. In the Mishna Kilaim, chap, 
viii. 5 (a portion of the Talmud), the passage occurs : 
" Creatures called Adne Hasadeh (literally ' lords of the 
field ') are regarded as beasts." There is a variant 
reading, Abne Hasadeh (stones of the field). A com- 
mentator, Rabbi Simeon, of Sens (died about 1235), 
writes as follows, on this passage : ' It is stated in 
the Jerusalem Talmud that this is a human being of the 
mountains : it lives by means of its navel : if its navel 
be cut, it cannot live. I have heard in the name of 
Rabbi Meir, the son of Kallonymos of Speyer, that this 
is the animal called Jeduah. This is thejedoui mentioned 
in Scripture (lit. wizard, Lev. xix. 31); with its bones 
witchcraft is practised. A kind of large stem issues 
from a root in the earth on which this animal, called 
Jadua, grows, just as gourds and melons. Only the 
Jadua has, in all respects, a human shape, in face, body, 
hands, and feet. By its navel it is joined to the stem 
that issues from the root. No creature can approach 
within the tether of the stem, for it seizes and kills 
them. Within the tether of the stem it devours the 
herbage all around. When they want to capture it, no 
man dares approach it, but they tear at the stem until 
it is ruptured, whereupon the animal dies.' Another 
commentator, Rabbi Obadja, of Berbinoro, gives the 



168 CURIOUS CREATURES. , 

same explanation, only substituting ' They aim arrows 
at the stem until it is ruptured/ &c. 

" The author of an ancient Hebrew work, Maase Tobia 
(Venice, 1705), gives an interesting description of this 
animal. In Part IV. c. 10, page 786, he mentions the 
Borametz found in Great Tartary. He repeats the 
description of Rabbi Simeon, and adds, that he has 
found, in ' A New Work on Geography,' namely, that 
' the Africans (sic) in Great Tartary, in the province 
of Sambulala, are enriched by means of seeds, like the 
seeds of gourds, only shorter in size, which grow and 
blossom like a stem to the navel of an animal which is 
called Borametz in their language, i.e. lamb, on account 
of its resembling a lamb in all its limbs, from head to 
foot ; its hoofs are cloven, its skin is soft, its wool is 
adapted for clothing, but it has no horns, only the hairs 
of its head, which grow, and are intertwined like horns. 
Its height is half a cubit and more. According to those 
who speak of this wondrous thing, its taste is like the 
flesh of fish, its blood as sweet as honey, and it lives as 
long as there is herbage within reach of the stem, from 
which it derives its life. If the herbage is destroyed or 
perishes, the animal also dies away. It has rest from all 
beasts and birds of prey, except the wolf, which seeks to 
destroy it.' The author concludes by expressing his be- 
lief that this account of the animal having the shape of a 
lamb is more likely to be true than it is of human form." 

As I have said, there are several delineations of this 
Borametz or Borometz, but there is one, a frontispiece to 
the 1656 edition of the Paridisi in Sole Paradisus Ter- 
restris,of John Parkinson, Apothecary of London, in which, 
together with Adam and Eve, the lamb-free is shown as 
flourishing in the Garden of Eden ; and Du Bartas, in 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 169 

" His divine WEEKES And WORKES " in his poem of Eden, 
(the first day of the second week), makes Adam to take 
a tour of Eden, and describes his wonder at what he 
sees, especially at the "lamb-plant." 

" Musing, anon through crooked Walks he wanders, 
Round-winding rings, and intricate Meanders, 
Fals-guiding paths, doubtfull beguiling strays, 
And right-wrong errors of an end-less Maze : 
Not simply hedged with a single border 
Of Rosemary, cut-out with curious order, 
In Satyrs, Centaurs, Whales, and half -men- Horses, 
And thousand other counterfaited corses ; 
But with true Beasts, fast in the ground still sticking, 
Feeding on grass, and th' airy moisture licking : 
Such as those Bonarets, in Scythia bred 
Of slender seeds, and with green fodder fed ; 
Although their bodies, noses, mouthes and eys, 
Of new-yean'd Lambs have full the form and guise ; 
And should be very Lambs, save that (for foot) 
Within the ground they fix a living root, 
Which at their navell growes, and dies that day 
That they have brouz'd the neighbour grass away. 

O wondrous vertue of God onely good ! 
The Beast hath root, the Plant hath flesh and blood 
The nimble Plant can turn it to and fro ; 
The nummed Beast can neither stir nor go : 
The Plant is leaf-less, branch-less, void of fruit ; 
The Beast is lust-less, sex-less, fire-less, mute ; 
The Plant with Plants his hungry panch doth feed ; 
Th' admired Beast is sowen a slender seed." 

Of the other kind of " lamb-tree," that which bears 
lambs in pods, we have an account, in Sir John Maun- 
deville's Travels. " Whoso goeth from Cathay to Inde, 
the high and the low, he shal go through a Kingdom 
that men call Cadissen, and it is a great lande, there 
groweth a manner of fruite as it were gourdes, and 
when it is ripe men cut it a sender, and men fynde 



1 70 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

therein a beast as it were of fleshe and bone and bloud, 
as it were a lyttle lambe without wolle, and men eate the 
beaste and fruite also, and sure it seemeth very strange." 
And in the "Journall of Frier Odoricus," which I 
have incorporated in my edition of " The Voiage and 
Trava3 r le of Syr John Maundeville, Knight," he says : 
" I was informed also by certaine credible persons of 
another miraculous thing, namely, that in a certaine 
Kingdome of the sayd Can, wherein stand the moun- 
tains called Kapsei (the Kingdomes name is Kalor) 
there groweth great Gourds or Pompions, (pumpkins) 
which being ripe, doe open at the tops, and within 
them is found a little beast like unto a yong lambe." 

THE CHIMERA. 




Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration 
of a Chimaera, a fabulous Classical monster, said to pos- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 171 

sess three heads, those of a lion, a goat, and a dragon. 
It used so to be pictorially treated, but in more modern 
times as Aldrovandus represents. The mountain Chi- 
titcera, now called Yanar, is in ancient Lycia, in Asia 
Minor, and was a burning mountain, which, according to 
Spratt, is caused by a stream of inflammable gas, issuing 
from a crevice. This monster is easily explained, if 
we can believe Servius, the Commentator of Virgil, who 
says that flames issue from the top of the mountain, 
and that there are lions in the vicinity ; the middle part 
abounds in goats, and the lower part with serpents. 

THE HARPY AND SIREN. 




The conjunction of the human form with birds is very 
easy, wings being fitted to it, as in the case of angels and 



172 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



as applied to beasts, this treatment is very ancient, vide 
the winged bulls of Assyria, and the classical Pegasus, or 
winged horse. With birds, the best form in which it is 
treated in Mythology is the Harpy. This is taken from 
Aldrovandus, and fully illustrates the mixture of bird and 
woman, described by Shakespeare in Pericles (iv. 3) : 

" Cleon. Thou'rt like the harpy, 

Which to betray, dost, with thine angel's face, 
Seize with thine eagle's talons." 







Then, also, we have the Siren, shown by this illustra- 
tion, taken from Pompeii. These Sea Nymphs were like 
the Harpies, depicted as a compound of bird and woman. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



173 



Like them also, there were three of them ; but, unlike 
them, they had such lovely voices, and were so beautiful, 
that they lured seamen to their destruction, they having 
no power to combat the allurements of the Sirens ; whilst 
the Harpies emitted an infectious smell, and spoiled what- 
ever they touched, with their filth, and excrements. 




Licetus, writing in 1634, and Zahn, in 1696, give the 
accompanying picture of a monster born at Ravenna in 



174 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

1 5 1 1 or 1 5 1 2. It had a horn on the top of its head, two 
wings, was without arms, and only one leg like that of a 
bird of prey. It had an eye in its knee, and was of 
both sexes. It had the face and body of a man, except 
in the lower part, which was covered with feathers. 

Marcellus Palonius Romanus made some Latin verses 
upon this prodigy, which may be thus rendered into 
English : 

A Monster strange in fable, and deform 

Still more in fact ; s.iiling with swiftest wing, 

He threatens double slaughter, and converts 

To thy fell ruin, flames of living fire. 

Of double sex, it spares no sex, alike 

With kindred blood it fills th' ^mathian plain ; 

Its corpses strew alike both street and sea. 

There hoary Thetis and the Nereids 

Swim shudd'ring through the waves, while floating wide 

The fish replete on human bodies . Such, 

Ravennn, was the Monster which foretold 

Thy fall, which brings thee now such bitter woe, 

Tho' boasting in thy image triumph-crowned. 

THE BARNACLE GOOSE. 

Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle 
Goose, which obtained credence from the eleventh to the 
seventeenth centuries, is as wonderful as any. The then 
accepted fact that the Barnacle Goose was generated 
on trees, and dropped alive in the water, dates back 
a hundred years before Gerald de Barri. Otherwise 
Giraldus Cambrensis wrote in 1187, about these birds, 
the following being a translation : 

" There are here many birds which are called Bernacae, 
which nature produces in a manner contrary to nature, 
and very wonderful. They are like marsh-geese, but 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 175 

smaller. They are produced from fir timber tossed 
about at sea, and are at first like geese upon it. After- 
wards they hang down by their beaks, as if from a sea- 
weed attached to the wood, and are enclosed in shells 
that they may grow the more freely. Having thus, in 
course of time, been clothed with a strong covering of 
feathers, they either fall into the water, or seek their 
liberty in the air by flight. The embryo geese derive 
their growth and nutriment from the moisture of the 
wood or of the sea, in a secret and most marvellous 
manner. I have seen with my own eyes more than a 
thousand minute bodies of these birds hanging from one 
piece of timber on the shore, enclosed in shells, and 
already formed. The eggs are not impregnated in cot'tu, 
like those of other birds, nor does the bird sit upon its 
eggs to hatch them, and in no corner of the world have 
they been known to build a nest. Hence the bishops 
and clergy in some parts of Ireland are in the habit of 
partaking of these birds, on fast days, without scruple. 
But in doing so they are led into sin. For, if any one 
were to eat of the leg of our first parent, although he 
(Adam) was not born of flesh, that person could not be 
adjudged innocent of eating flesh." 

We see here, that Giraldus speaks of these barnacles 
being developed on wreckage in the sea, but does not 
mention their growing upon trees, which was the 
commoner belief. I have quoted both Sir John Maunde- 
ville, and Odoricus, about the lamb-tree, which neither 
seem to consider very wonderful, for Sir John says : 
" Neverthelesse I sayd to them that I held y l for no 
marvayle, for I sayd that in my countrey are trees y l 
beare fruit, y l become byrds flying, and they are good 
to eate, and that that falleth on the water, liveth, and 



i 7 6 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



that that falleth on earth, dyeth, and they marvailed 
much thereat." And the Friar, in continuation of his 
story of the Borometz, says : " Even as I my selfe have 
heard reported that there stand certaine trees upon the 




shore of the Irish Sea, bearing fruit like unto a gourd, 
which at a certaine time of the yeere doe fall into the 
water, and become birds called Bernacles, and this is 
most true." 

Olaus Magnus, in speaking of the breeding of Ducks 
in Scotland, says : " Moreover, another Scotch Historian, 
who diligently sets down the secret of things, saith that 
in the Orcades, (the Orkneys) Ducks breed of a certain 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 177 

Fruit falling in the Sea; and these shortly after, get 
wings, and fly to the tame or wild ducks." And, whilst 
discoursing on Geese, he affirms that " some breed from 
Trees, as I said of Scotland Ducks in the former Chapter." 
Sebastian Miienster, from whom I have taken the pre- 
ceding illustration, says in his Cosmographia Universalis : 
" In Scotland there are trees which produce fruit, con- 
glomerated of their leaves ; and this fruit, when, in due 
time, it falls into the water beneath it, is endowed with 
new life, and is converted into a living bird, which they 
call the ' tree goose.' This tree grows in the Island 
of Pomonia, which is not far from Scotland, towards 
the North. Several old Cosmographers, especially Saxo 
Grammaticus, mention the tree, and it must not be 
regarded as fictitious, as some new writers suppose." 

In Camden's " Britannia " (translated by Edmund Gib- 
son, Bishop of London) he says, speaking of Buchan : 
"It is hardly worth while to mention the clayks, a sort 
of geese ; which are believed by some, (with great admira- 
tion) to grow upon the trees on this coast and in other 
places, and, when they are ripe, to fall down into the 
sea ; because neither their nests nor eggs can anywhere 
be found. But they who saw the ship, in which Sir 
Francis Drake sailed round the world, when it was laid 
up in the river Thames, could testify, that little birds 
breed in the old rotten keels of ships ; since a great 
number of such, without life and feathers, stuck close to 
the outside of the keel of that ship ; yet I should think, 
that the generation of these birds was not from the logs 
of wood, but from the sea, termed by the poets ' the 
parent of all things. ' " 

In " Purchas, his Pilgrimage," is the voyage of Gerat 
de Veer to China, &c., in 1569 and he speaks of the 



178 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Barnacle goose thus : " Those geese were o'f a perfit 
red colour, such as come to Holland about Weiringen, 
and every yeere are there taken in abundance, but till 
this time, it was never knowne where they hatcht their 
egges, so that some men have taken upon them to write 




that they sit upon trees in Scotland, that hang over the 
water, and such eggs that fall from them downe into the 
water, become young geese, and swim there out of the 
water : but those that fall upon the land, burst asunder, 
and are lost ; but that is now found to be contrary, that 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 179 

no man could tell where they breed their egges, for that 
no man that ever wee knew, had ever beene under 80 ; 
nor that land under 80 was never set downe in any 
card, much lesse the red geese that breede therein." He 
and his sailors declared that they had seen these birds 
sitting on their eggs, and hatching them, on the coasts 
of Nova Zembla. 

Du Bartas thus mentions this goose : 

" So, slowe Bootes underneath him sees, 
In th' ycie iles, those goslings hatcht of trees ; 
Whose fruitfull leaves, falling into the water, 
Are turned, (they say) to living fowls soon after. 
So, rotten sides of broken ships do change 
To barnacles ; O transformation strange ! 
'Twas first a green tree, then a gallant hull, 
Lately a mushroom, now a flying gull." 

I could multiply quotations on this subject. Gesner 
and every other naturalist believed in the curious birth 
of the Barnacle goose and so even did Aldrovandus, 
writing at the close of the 
seventeenth century, for from 
him I take this illustration. 
But enough has been said 
upon the subject. 

REMARKABLE EGG. 

No wonder that a credulous 
age, which could see nothing 
extraordinary in the Barnacle 
goose, could also, metaphori- 
cally, swallow such an egg, as 
Licetus, first of all, and Aldro- 
vandus, after him, gives us in the accompanying true 




:8o 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



picture. The latter says that a goose's egg was found 
in France, (he leaves a liberal margin for locality,) which 
on being broken appeared exactly as in the picture. 
Comment thereon is useless. 

MOON WOMAN. 

One would have imagined that this Egg would be 
sufficient to test the credulity of most people, but Aldro- 
vandus was equal to the occasion, and he gives us a 
" Moon Woman," who lays eggs, sits upon them, and 




hatches Giants ; and he gives this on the authority of 
Lycosthenes and Ravisius Textor. 

THE GRIFFIN. 

There always has been a tradition of birds being 
existent, of far greater size than those usually visible. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 181 

The Maoris aver that at times they still hear the 
gigantic Moa in the scrub and, even, if extinct, we 
know, by the state of the bones found, that its extinction 
must have been of comparatively recent date. But no 
one credits the Moa with the power of flight, whilst 
the Griffin, which must not be confounded with the 
gold-loving Arimaspian Gryphon, was a noble bird. 
Mandeville knew him: "In this land (Bactrid) are 
many gryffons, more than in other places, and some 




say they have the body before as an Egle, and behinde 
as a Lyon, and it is trouth, for they be made so ; but 
the Griffen hath a body greater than viii Lyons, and stall 
worthier (stouter, braver) than a hundred Egles. For 
certainly he wyl beare to his nest flying, a horse and a 
man upon his back, or two Oxen yoked togither as they 
go at plowgh, for he hath longe nayles on hys fete, as 
great as it were homes of Oxen, and of those they make 
Cups there to drynke of, and of his rybes they make 
bowes to shoote with." 

Olaus Magnus says they live in the far Northern 



i8 2 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

mountains, that they prey upon horses and men, and 
that of their nails drinking-cups were made, as large 
as ostrich eggs. These enormous birds correspond in 
many points to the Eastern Rue or Rukh, or the Rok of 
the "Arabian Nights," of whose mighty powers of flight 
Sindbad took advantage. 

Ser Marco Polo, speaking of Madagascar, says : " 'Tis 
said that in those other Islands to the south, which the 
ships are unable to visit because this strong current 
prevents their return, is found the bird Gryphon, which 
appears there at certain seasons. The description given 
of it is, however, entirely different from what our stories 
and pictures make it. For persons who had been there 
and had seen it, told Messer Marco Polo that it was for 
all the world like an eagle, but one indeed of enormous 
size ; so big in fact, that its wings covered an extent of 
30 paces, and its quills were 12 paces long, and thick in 
proportion. And it is so strong that it will seize an 
Elephant in its talons, and carry him high into the air, 
and drop him so that he is smashed to pieces : having 
so killed him, the bird gryphon swoops down on him, 
and eats him at leisure. The people of those isles call 
the bird Rue, and it has no other name. So I wot not 
if this be the real gryphon, or if there be another manner 
of bird as great. But this I can tell you for certain, 
that they are not half lion and half bird, as our stories 
do relate ; but, enormous as they be, they are fashioned 
just like an eagle. 

"The Great Kaan sent to those parts to enquire about 
these curious matters, and the story was told by those 
who went thither. He also sent to procure the release 
of an envoy of his who had been despatched thither, 
and had been detained ; so both those envoys had many 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 183 

wonderful things to tell the Great Kaan about those 
strange islands, and about the birds I have mentioned. 
They brought (as I heard) to the Great Kaan, a feather 
of the said Rue, which was stated to measure 90 
Spans, whilst the quill part was two palms in circum- 
ference, a marvellous object ! The Great Kaan was 
delighted with it, and gave great presents to those 
who brought it." 

This quill seems rather large ; other travellers, how- 
ever, perhaps not so truthful as Ser Marco, speak of 
these enormous quills. The Moa of New Zealand 
(Dinornis giganteus) is supposed to have been the largest 
bird in Creation and next to that is the sEpyorms 
maximus whose bones and egg have been found in 
Madagascar. An egg is in the British Museum, and it 
has a liquid capacity of 2.35 gallons, but, alas, for the 
quill story this bird was wingless. 

The Condor has been put forward as the real and 
veritable Rue, but no living specimens will compare with 
this bird as it has been described especially if we take 
the picture of it in Lane's "Arabian Nights," where it 
is represented as taking up three elephants, one in its 
beak, and one in each of its claws. 

The Japanese have a legend of a great bird which 
carried off men and there is a very graphic picture 
now on view at the White Wing of the British Museum, 
where one of these birds, having seized a man, frightens, 
very naturally, the whole community. 

THE PHCENIX. 

Pliny says of the Phoenix : "^Ethiopia and India, more 
especially produce birds of diversified plumage, and such 



1 84 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

as quite surpass all description. In the front rank of 
these is the Phoenix, that famous bird of Arabia ; though 
I am not sure that its existence is not a fable. 

"It is said that there is only one in existence in the 
whole world, and that that one has not been seen very 
often. We are told that this bird is of the size of an 
eagle, and has a brilliant golden plumage around the 
neck, whilst the rest of the body is a purple colour ; 
except the tail, which is azure, with long feathers inter- 
mingled, of a roseate hue ; the throat is adorned with a 
crest, and the head with a tuft of feathers. The first 
Roman who described this bird, and who has done so 
with great exactness, was the Senator Manilius, so 
famous for his learning ; which he owed, too, to the 
instructions of no teacher. He tells us that no person 
has ever seen this bird eat, that in Arabia it is looked 
upon as sacred to the Sun ; that it lives five hundred 
and forty years. That when it is old it builds a nest 
of Cassia and sprigs of incense, which it fills with per- 
fumes, and then lays its body down upon them to die : 
that from its bones and marrow there springs at first a 
sort of small worm, which, in time, changes into a little 
bird ; that the first thing it does is to perform the 
obsequies of its predecessor, and to carry the nest entire 
to the City of the Sun near Panchaia, and there deposit 
it upon the altar of that divinity. 

"The same Manilius states also, that the revolution of 
the great year is completed with the life of this bird, and 
that then a new cycle comes round again with the same 
characteristics as the former one, in the seasons and the 
appearance of the stars ; and he says that this begins 
about midday of the day in which the Sun enters the 
sign of Aries. He also tells us that when he wrote to 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 185 

the above effect, in the consulship of P. Licinius, and 
Cneius Cornelius, (B.C. 96) it was the two hundred 
and fifteenth year of the said revolution. Cornelius 
Valerianus says that the Phoenix took its flight from 
Arabia into Egypt in the Consulship of Q. Plautius and 
Sextus Papinius, (A.D. 36). This bird was brought to 
Rome in the Censorship of the Emperor Claudius, being 
the year from the building of the City, 800, (A.D. 47) 
and it was exposed to public view in the Comitium. 
This fact is attested by the public Annals, but there is 
no one that doubts that it was a fictitious Phcenix." 

Cuvier seems to think that the bird described above 
was a Golden Pheasant, brought from the interior of 
Asia at a time when these birds were unknown to 
civilised Europe. 

Du Bartas, in his metrical account of the Creation, 
mentions this winged prodigy : 

" The Heav'nly Phoenix first began to frame 
The earthly Phcenix, and adorn'd the same 
With such a Plume, that Phoebus, circuiting 
From Fez to Cairo, sees no fairer thing : 
Such form, such feathers, and such Fate he gave her 
That fruitfull Nature breedeth nothing braver : 
Two sparkling eyes ; upon her crown, a crest 
Of starrie Sprigs (more splendent than the rest) 
A goulden doun about her dainty neck, 
Her brest deep purple, and a scarlet back, 
Her wings and train of feathers (mixed fine) 
Of orient azure and incarnadine. 
He did appoint her Fate to be her Pheer, 
And Death's cold kisses to restore her heer 
Her life again, which never shall expire 
Untill (as she) the World consume in fire. 
For, having passed under divers Climes, 
A thousand Winters, and a thousand Primes ; 
Worn out with yeers, wishing her endless end, 



186 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

To shining flames she doth her life commend, 
Dies to revive, and goes into her Grave 
To rise againe more beautifull and brave. 
With Incense, Cassia, Spiknard, Myrrh, and Balm, 
By break of Day shee builds (in narrow room) 
Her Urn, her Nest, her Cradle, and her Toomb ; 
Where, while she sits all gladly-sad expecting 
Some flame (against her fragrant heap reflecting) 
To burn her sacred bones to seedfull cinders, 
(Wherein, her age, but not her life, she renders.) 

And Sol himself, glancing his goulden eyes 

On th' odoriferous Couch wherein she lies, 

Kindles the spice, and by degrees consumes 

Th' immortall Phcenix, both her flesh and plumes. 

But instantly, out of her ashes springs 

A Worm, an Egg then, then a Bird with wings, 

Just like the first, (rather the same indeed) 

Which (re-ingendred of its selfly seed) 

By nobly dying, a new Date begins, 

And where she loseth, there her life she wins : 

Endless by'r End, eternall by her Toomb ; 

While, by a prosperous Death, she doth becom 

(Among the cinders of her sacred Fire) 

Her own selfs Heir, Nurse, Nurseling, Dam and Sire." 



THE SWALLOW. 

" And is the swallow gone ? 
Who beheld it ? 
Which way sailed it ? 
Farewell bade it none ? " 

(W. Smith, Country book.) 

Olaus Magnus answered this question, according to his 
lights, and when, discoursing on the Migration of Swal- 
lows he says : " Though many Writers of Natural His- 
tories have written that Swallows change their stations ; 
that is, when cold Winter begins to come, they fly to 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



187 



hotter Climats ; yet oft-times, in the Northern Countries, 
Swallows are drawn forth, by chance by Fishermen, like 
a lump cleaving together, where they went amongst the 
Reeds, after the beginning of Autumn, and there fasten 
themselves bill to bill, wing to wing, feet to feet. For 
it is observed, that they, about that time ending their 
most sweet note, (?) do so descend, and they fly out 
peaceably after the beginning of the Spring, and come 
to their old Nests, or else they build new ones by their 
natural care. Now that lump being drawn forth by 




ignorant young men (for the old Fishermen that are 
acquainted with it, put it in again) is carryed and laid 
on the Sea Shore, and by the heat of the Sun, the Lump 
is dissolved, and the Swallows begin to fly, but they last 
but a short time because they were not set at liberty by 
being taken so soon, but they were made captive by it. 
It hapneth also in the Spring, when they return freely, 
and come to their old Nests, or make new ones, if a very 
cold Winter come upon them, and much snow fall, they 
will all dye ; that all that Summer you shall see none of 



1 88 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

them upon the Houses, or Banks, or Rivers ; but a very 
few that came later out of the Waters, or from other 
Parts, which by Nature come flying thither, to repair 
their Issue. Winter being fully ended in May; For 
Husband-Men, from their Nests, built higher or lower, 
take their Prognostications, whether they shall sowe in 
Valleys, or Mountains or Hills, according as the Rain 
shall increase or diminish. Also the Inhabitants hold 
it an ill sign, if the Swallows refuse to build upon their 
houses ; for they fear those House-tops are ready to fall." 

This is proper, and good, and what we might expect 
from Olaus Magnus ; but it is somewhat singular to see, 
printed in Notes and Queries for October 22, 1864, the 
following : 

" The Duke de R related to me, a few days ago, 

that in Sweden, the swallows, as soon as the winter 
begins to approach, plunge themselves into the lakes, 
where they remain asleep and hidden under the ice till 
the return of the summer ; when, revived by the new 
warmth, they come out from the water, and fly away as 
formerly. While the lakes are frozen, if somebody will 
break the ice in those parts where it appears darker 
than in the rest, he will find masses of swallows cold, 
asleep, and half dead ; which, by taking out of their 
retreat, and warming, he will see gradually to vivify 
again and fly. 

" In other countries they retire very often to the 
Caverns, under the rocks. As many of these exist 
between the City of Caen, and the Sea, on the banks of 
the river Orne, there are found sometimes, during the 
winter, piles of swallows suspended in these vaults, like 
bundles of grapes. I witnessed the same thing, myself, 
in Italy ; where, as well as in France, it is considered 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 189 

(as I have heard) very lucky by the inhabitants when 

swallows build nests on their habitations 

Rhodocanakis" 

Of course, these stories of curious hybernation were 
pooh-poohed, although it could not be denied that the 
subaqueous hybernation of swallows is given in Gold- 
smith's "Animated Nature," and many other Natural 
Histories, which succeeded his. 

The wintering of swallows in caverns, has another 
eye-witness in Edward Williams (lolo Morganwg), who in 
his "Poems, Lyrics, and Pastorals," published 1794, says: 
"About the year 1768, the author, with two or three 
more, found a great number of swallows in a torpid 
state, clinging in clusters to each other by their bills, 
in a cave of the sea-cliffs near Dunraven Castle, in the 
County of Glamorgan. They revived after they had 
been some hours in a warm room, but died a day or 
two after, though all possible care had been taken of 
them." 

THE MARTLET, AND FOOTLESS BIRDS. 

Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, 
Guillim thus writes : " The Martlet, or Martinet, saith 
Bekenhawh, hath Legs so exceeding short, that they can 
by no means go : (walk) And thereupon, it seemeth, the 
Grecians do call them Apodes, quasi sine pedibus ; not 
because they do want Feet, but because they have not 
such Use of their Feet, as other Birds have. And if 
perchance they fall upon the Ground, they cannot raise 
themselves upon their Feet, as others do, and prepare 
themselves to flight. For this Cause they are accus- 
tomed to make their Nests upon Rocks and other high 
places, from whence they may easily take their flight, 



i 9 o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

by Means of the Support of the Air. Hereupon it came, 
that this Bird is painted in Arms without Feet : and for 
this Cause it is also given for a Difference of younger 
Brethren, to put them in mind to trust to their wings of 
Vertue and Merit, to raise themselves, and not to their 
Legs, having little Land to put their foot on." 

The Alerion is a small bird of the eagle tribe, heraldi- 
cally depicted as without beak or feet. 

Butler in " Hudibras " writes 

" Like a bird of paradise, 
Or herald's Martlet, has no legs, 
Nor hatches young ones, nor lays eggs." 

The Bird of Paradise was unknown to the ancients, 
and one of the earliest notices of this bird is given in 
Magalhaen's voyage in 1521 : "The King of Bachian, 
one of the Molucca Islands, sent two dead birds pre- 
served, which were of extraordinary beauty. In size 
they were not larger than the thrush : the head was 
small, with a long bill ; the legs were of the thickness 
of a common quill, and a span in length ; the tail re- 
sembled that of the thrush ; they had no wings, but in 
the place where wings usually are, they had tufts of long 
feathers, of different colours ; all the other feathers were 
dark. The inhabitants of the Moluccas had a tradition 
that this bird came from Paradise, and they call it 
bolondinata, which signifies the ' bird of God.' " 

By-and-by, as trade increased, the skins of this bird 
were found to have a high market value, but the natives 
always brought them, when they came to trade, with 
their legs cut off. Thence sprang the absurd rumour 
that they had no legs, although in the early account 
just quoted, their legs are expressly mentioned. Lin- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 191 

naeus called the emerald birds of Paradise apoda or 
legless ; whilst Tavernier says that these birds getting 
drunk on nutmegs, fall helpless to the ground, and then 
the ants eat off their legs. 

" But note we now, towards the rich Moluques, 
Those passing strange and wondrous (birds) Manueques. 
(Wond'rous indeed, if Sea, or Earth, or Sky, 
Saw ever wonder swim, or goe, or fly) 
None knowes their Nest, none knowes the dam that breeds 

them; 

Foodless they live ; for th' Aire alonely feeds them : 
Wingless they fly ; and yet their flight extends, 
Till with their flight, their unknown live's-date ends." 

SNOW BIRDS. 

But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, 
and speak of " Birds shut up under the Snow." 

" There are in the Northern Countries Wood-Cocks, 







like to pheasant for bigness, but their Tails are much 
shorter, and they are cole black all over their bodies, 
with some white feathers at the end of their Tails and 



1 92 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Wings. The Males have a red Comb standing upright ; 
the Females have one that is low and large, and the 
colour is grey. These Birds are of an admirable Nature 
to endure huge Cold in the Woods, as the Ducks in the 
Waters. But when the Snow covers the Superficies of 
the Earth, like to Hills, all over, and for a long time 
presse down the boughs of the Trees with their weight, 
they eat certain Fruits of the Birch-Tree, called in 
Italian (Gatulo) like to a long Pear, and they swallow 
them whole, and that in so great quantity, and so 
greedily, that their throat is stuffed, and seems greater 
than all their body. 

"Then they part their Companies, and thrust themselves 
all over into the snow, especially in January, February 
and March, when Snow and Whirlwinds, Storms, and 
grievous Tempests, descend from the Clouds. And when 
they are covered all over, that not one of them can be 
seen, lying all in heaps, for certain weeks they live, 
with meat collected in their throats, and cast forth, and 
resumed. The Hunter's Dogs cannot find them; yet 
by the Cunning of the crafty Hunters, it falls out, that 
when the Dogs err in their scent, they, by signs, will 
catch a number of living Birds, and will draw them forth 
to their great profit. But they must do that quickly ; 
because when they hear the Dogs bark, they presently 
rise like Bees, and take up on the Wing, and fly aloft. 
But, if they perceive that the Snow will be greater, they 
devour the foresaid Fruit again, and take a new dwelling, 
and there they stay till the end of March : or, if the 
snow melt sooner, when the Sun goes out of Aries; 
for then the snow melting, by an instinct of Nature 
(as many other Birds) they rise out of their holes to lay 
Eggs, and produce young ones ; and this in Mountains 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 193 

where bryars are, and thick Trees. Males and Females 
sit on the Eggs by turns, and both of them keep the 
Young, and chiefly the Male, that neither the Eagle nor 
Fox may catch them. 

" These Birds fly in great sholes together, and they 
remain in high Trees, chiefly Birch-Trees ; and they come 
not down, but for propagation, because they have food 
enough on the top of their Trees. And when Hunters 
or Countreymen, to whom those fields belong, see them 
fly all abroad, over the fields full of snow, they pitch up 
staves obliquely from the Earth, above the Snow, eight 
or ten foot high ; and at the top of them, there hangs 
a snare, that moves with the least touch, and so they 
catch these Birds ; because they, when they Couple, leap 
strangely, as Partridges do, and so they fall into these 
snares, and hang there. And when one seems to be 
caught in the Gin, the others fly to free her, and are 
caught in the like snare. There is also another way 
to catch them, namely with arrows and stalking-horses, 
that they may not suspect it. ... 

" There is also another kind of Birds called Bonosa, 
whose flesh is outwardly black, inwardly white : they 
are as delicate good meat as Partridges, yet as great as 
Pheasants. At the time of Propagation, the Male runs 
with open mouth till he foam ; then the Female runs 
and receives the same ; and from thence she seems to 
conceive, and bring forth eggs, and to produce her 
young." 

THE SWAN. 

The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that 
Swans sing before they die was not altogether believed 
even in classical times, as saith Pliny : " It is stated that 



i 9 4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

at the moment of the swan's death, it gives utterance 
to a mournful song ; but this is an error, in my opinion ; 
at least, I have tested the truth of the story on several 
occasions." That some swans have a kind of voice, and 
can change a note or two, no one who has met with a 
flock or two of " hoopers," or wild swans, can deny. 

Olaus Magnus relates the fable and quotes Plato, that 
the swan sings at its death, not from sorrow, but out of 
joy, at finishing its life. He also gives us a graphic illus- 
tration of how swans may be caught by playing to them 
on a lute or other stringed instrument, and also that they 




were to be caught by men (playing music) with stalking- 
horses, in the shape of oxen, or horses ; and, in another 
page, he says, that not far from London, the Metropolis 
of England, on the River Thames, may be found more 
than a thousand domesticated swans. 

THE ALLE, ALLE. 

" There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of 
bird, very frequent ; and in other Coasts of the Bothnick 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



195 



and Swedish Sea, that cries incessantly all the Summer, 
Alle, Alle, therefore they are called all over, by the In- 
habitants, Alle, Alle. For in that Lake such a multitude 
of great birds is found, (as I said before) by reason of 
the fresh Waters that spring from hot springs, that they 
seem to cover all the shores and rivers, especially Sea- 
Crows, or Cormorants, Coots, More Hens, two sorts of 
Ducks, Swans, and infinite smaller Water Birds. These 
Crows, and other devouring birds, the hunters can easily 
take, because they fly slowly, and not above two or four 




Cubits above the Water : thus they do it on the narrow 
Rocks, as in the Gates of Islands, on the Banks of them, 
they hang black nets, or dyed of a Watry Colour upon 
Spears ; and these, with Pulleys, will quickly slip up or 
down, that in great Sholes they catch the Birds that fly 
thither by letting the Nets fall upon them : and this is 
necessary, because those Birds fly so slowly, and right for- 
ward; so that few escape. Also, sometimes Ducks, and 
other Birds are taken in these Nets. Wherefore these 
black, or slow Birds, whether they swim or fly, are always 
crying Alle, Alle, which in Latine signifies All, All, 



196 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



(Omnes) and so they do when they are caught in the 
Nets : and this voyce the cunning Fowler interprets thus, 
that he hath not, as yet, all of them in his Nets ; nor 
ever shall have, though he had six hundred Nets." 



THE HOOPOE AND LAPWING. 

Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, 
or the Lapwing, I know not. The Latin version has " De 
Upupis," which clearly means Hoopoes and the trans- 
lation says, " Of the Whoups or Lapwings " I follow 
the latter. " Lapwings, when at a set time they come to 
the Northern Countries from other parts, they foreshew 




the ncarnesse of the Spring coming on. It is a Bird that 
is full of crying and lamentation, to preserve her Eggs, or 
young. By importunate crying, she shews that Foxes 
lye hid in the grasse ; and so she cries out in all places, 
to drive away dogs and other Beasts. They fight with 
Swallows, Pies, and Jackdaws. 

"On Hillocks, in Lakes, she lays her Eggs, and hatcheth 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



197 



her young ones. Made tame she will cleane a house of 
Flyes, and catch Mice. She foreshews Rain when she 
cries ; which also Field Scorpions do, called Mares, 
Cuckows ; who by flying overthwart, and crying loudly, 
foreshew Rain at hand ; also the larger Scorpions, with 
huge long snouts, fore signifie Rain ; so do Wood- 
peckers. There is a Bird also called Rayn, as big as 
a Partridge that hath Feathers of divers colours, of a 
yellow, white, and black colour : This is supposed to 
live upon nothing but Ayr, though she be fat, nothing 
is found in her belly. The Fowlers hunt her with long 
poles, which they cast high in the Ayr to fright her, so 
that they may catch the Bird flying down." 

THE OSTRICH. 

Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, 
has thoroughly exploded the 
old errors respecting this 
bird. We believe in its 
powers of swallowing any- 
thing not too large, but not 
in its digesting everything, 
and certainly not, as Muen- 
ster would fain have us 
believe, that an Ostrich's 
dinner consists of a church- 
door key, and a horse-shoe. 
As matters of fact, we know 
that, when pursued, they 
do not bury their heads in 
the sand, or a bush ; and 
instead of covering their 
eggs with sand, and leaving the sun to hatch them, 




198 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

both the male and female are excellent, and model 
parents. 

Pliny, however, says differently : " This bird exceeds 
in height a man sitting on horseback, and can surpass 
him in swiftness, as wings have been given to aid it 
in running; in other respects Ostriches cannot be con- 
sidered as birds, and do not raise themselves from the 
earth. They have cloven talons, very similar to the hoof 
of the stag (they have but two toes) ; with these they fight, 
and they also employ them in seizing stones for the 
purpose of throwing at those who pursue them. They 
have the marvellous property of being able to digest 
every substance without distinction, but their stupidity 
is no less remarkable : for although the rest of their 
body is so large, they imagine when they have thrust 
their head and neck into a bush, that the whole body is 
concealed." 

Giovanni Leone Africano writes that " this fowle liveth 
in drie desarts and layeth to the number of ten or twelve 
egges in the sand, which being about the bignesse of great 
bullets weigh fifteen pounds a piece ; but the ostrich is 
of so weak a memorie, that she presently forgetteth the 
place where her egges were laid, and, afterwards the 
same, or some other ostrich hen finding the said eggs by 
chance hatched and fostereth them as if they were cer- 
tainely her owne. The chickens are no sooner crept out 
of the shell but they prowle up and downe the desarts 
for their food, and before theyr feathers be growne they 
are so swifte that a man shall hardly overtake them. 
The ostrich is a silly and deafe creature, feeding upon 
any thing which it findeth, be it as hard and indigestible 
as yron." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 199 

THE HALCYON. 

Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses : 
" The halcyon is not much larger than a sparrow ; its 
colour is blue and green, and somewhat purple ; its 
whole body is composed of these colours as well as the 
wings and neck, nor is any part without every one of 
these colours. Its bill is somewhat yellow, long and 
slight ; this is its external form. Its nest resembles 
the marine balls which are called halosachnae (probably 
a Zoophyte, Alcyonia) except in colour, for they are red ; 
in form it resembles those sicyae (cucumbers) which 
have long necks ; its size is that of a very large sponge, 
for some are greater, others less. They are covered 
up, and have a thick solid part, as well as the cavity ; 
it is not easily cut with a sharp knife, but, when struck 
or broken with the hand, it divides readily like the 
halosachnae. The mouth is narrow, as it were a small 
entrance, so that the sea water cannot enter, even if the 
Sea is rough : its cavity is like that of the Sponge. The 
material of which the nest is composed is disputed, but 
it appears to be principally composed of the spines of 
the belone, for the bird lives on fish." 

Pliny says : " It is a thing of very rare occurrence 
to see a halcyon, and then it is only about the time of 
the setting of the Vergiliae, and the summer and winter 
solstices ; when one is sometimes to be seen to hover 
about a ship, and then immediately disappear. They 
hatch their young at the time of the winter solstice, 
from which circumstance those days are known as the 
' halcyon days ; ' during this period the sea is calm and 
navigable, the Sicilian sea in particular." 

" Halcyon days " is used proverbially, but the King- 



200 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

fisher had another very useful trait. If a dead King- 
fisher were hung up by a cord, it would point its beak 
to the quarter whence the wind blew. Shakespeare 
mentions this property in King Lear (ii. I) : 

" Turn their halcyon beaks 
With every gale and vary of their masters." 

And Marlowe, in his Jew of Malta (i. i) : 

" But now, how stands the wind ? 
Into what corner peers my halcyon bill ? " 



THE PELICAN. 

The fable of the Pelican " in her piety, vulning 
herself," as it is heraldically described is so well known, 

as hardly to be worth 
mentioning, even to 
contradict it. In the 
first place, the her- 
aldic bird is as un- 
like the real one, as 
it is possible to be ; 
but the legend seems 
to have had its origin 
in Egypt, where the 
vulture was credited 
with this extraordi- 
nary behaviour, and this bird is decidedly more in 
accordance with the heraldic ideal. Du Bartas, singing 
of " Charitable birds," praises equally the Stork and the 
Pelican : 




The Stork, still eyeing her deer Thessalie, 
The Pelican c.>mforteth cheerfully: 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 20 

Prayse-worthy Payer which pure examples yield 

Of faithfull Father, and Officious Childe : 

Th' one quites (in time) her Parents love exceeding, 

From whom shee had her birth and tender breeding ; 

Not onely brooding under her warm brest 

Their age-chill'd bodies bed-rid in the nest ; 

Nor only bearing them upon her back 

Through th' empty Aire, when their own wings they lack ; 

But also, sparing (This let Children note) 

Her daintiest food from her own hungry throat, 

To feed at home her feeble Parents, held 

From forraging, with heavy Gyves of Eld. 

The other, kindly, for her tender Brood 

Tears her own bowells, trilleth-out her blood, 

To heal her young, and in a wondrous sort, 

Unto her Children doth her life transport : 

For finding them by som fell Serpent slain, 

She rends her brest, and doth upon them rain 

Her vitall humour ; whence recovering heat, 

They by her death, another life do get." 



THE TROCHILUS. 

This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of 
a peculiar turn of mind : "When the Crocodile gapes, 
the trochilus flies into its mouth to cleanse its teeth ; 
in this process the trochilus procures food, and the 
other perceives it, and does not injure it ; when the 
Crocodile wishes the trochilus to leave, it moves its neck 
that it may not bite the bird." 

Giovanni Leone before quoted says, respecting this 
bird : " As we sayled further we saw great numbers of 
crocodiles upon the banks of the ilands in the midst of 
Nilus lye baking them in the sunne with their jawes 
wide open, whereinto certaine little birds about the 
bignesse of a thrush entering, came flying forth againe 
presently after. The occasion whereof was told me to 



202 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

be this : the crocodiles by reason of their continuall 
devouring beasts and fishes have certaine pieces of flesh 
sticking fast betweene their forked teeth, which flesh 
being putrified, breedeth a kind of worme, wherewith 
they are cruelly tormented ; wherefor the said birds 
flying about, and seeing the wormes enter into the 
Crocodile's jaws to satisfie their hunger thereon, but the 
Crocodile perceiving himselfe freede from the wormes of 
his teeth, offereth to shut his mouth, and to devour the 
little bird that did him so good a turne, but being 
hindred from his ungratefull attempt by a pricke which 
groweth upon the bird's head, hee is constrayned to 
open his jawes, and to let her depart." 

Du Bartas gives another colour to the behaviour of 
the Trochilus : 

" The Wren, who seeing (prest with sleep's desire) 
Nile's poys'ny Pirate press the slimy shoar, 
Suddenly corns, and, hopping him before, 
Into his mouth he skips, his teeth he pickles. 
Clenseth his palate, and his throat so tickles, 
That, charm'd with pleasure, the dull Serpent gapes. 
Wider and wider, with his ugly chaps : 
Then, like a shaft, th' Ichneumon instantly 
Into the Tyrants greedy gorge doth fly, 
And feeds upon that Glutton, for whose Riot, 
All Nile's fat margents scarce could furnish diet." 



WOOLLY HENS. 

Sir John Maundeville saw in " the kingdome named 
Mancy, which is the best kingdome of the worlde 
(Manzi, that part of China south of the river Hoang-ho) 
whyte hennes, and they beare no feathers, but woll as 
shepe doe in our lande." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 203 

TWO-HEADED WILD GEESE. 

Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, 
there were many islands, and, " Also in this yle, and in 
many yles thereabout are many wyld geese with two 
heads." But these were not the only extraordinary 
breed of wild geese, extant. 

" As the wise Wilde-geese, when they over-soar 
Cicilian mounts, within their bills do bear, 
A pebble stone both day and night : for fear 
Lest ravenous Eagles of the North descry 
Their Armies passage, by their Cackling Cry." 

Aristotle mentions the Crane as another stone-bearing 
bird : " Among birds, as it was previously remarked, 
the Crane migrates from one extremity of the earth to 
the other, and they fly against the wind. As for the 
story of the stone, it is a fiction, for they say that they 
carry a stone as ballast, which is useful as a touchstone 
for gold, after they have vomited it up." 

FOUR- FOOTED DUCK. 




Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says 
is like the English puffin, except in the number of its 



204 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

feet : but Aldrovandus " out-Herods Herod " when he 
gives us " A monstrous Cock with Serpent's tail." 

If we can believe Pliny, there are places where certain 
birds are never found : " With reference to the depar- 
ture of birds, the owlet, too, is said to lie concealed for 
a few days. No birds of this last kind are to be found 
in the island of Crete, and if any are imported thither, 
they immediately die. Indeed, this is a remarkable 
distinction made by Nature ; for she denies to certain 
places, as it were, certain kinds of fruits and shrubs, and 
of animals as well ; . . . 

" Rhodes possesses no Eagles. In Italy, beyond the 
Padus, there is, near the Alps, a lake known by the name 
of Larius, beautifully situate amid a country covered 
with shrubs ; and yet this lake is never visited by storks, 
nor, indeed, are they ever known to come within eight 
miles of it ; whilst on the other hand, in the neighbour- 
ing territory of the Montres, there are immense flocks 
of magpies and jackdaws, the only bird that is guilty of 
stealing gold and silver, a very singular propensity. 

"It is said that in the territory of Tarentum, the wood- 
pecker of Mars is never found. It is only lately, too, 
and that but very rarely, that various kinds of pies have 
begun to be seen in the districts that lie between the 
Apennines, and the City ; birds which are known by 
the name of Varice, and are remarkable for the length 
of the tail. It is a peculiarity of this bird, that it 
becomes bald every year at the time of sowing rape. 
The partridge does not fly beyond the frontiers of 
Bceotia, into Attica ; nor does any bird, in the island 
in the Euxine in which Achilles was buried, enter the 
temple there consecrated to him. 

" In the territory of Fidenae, in the vicinity of the City, 



206 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the storks have no young, nor do they build nests ; but 
vast numbers of ring-doves arrive from beyond sea every 
year in the district of Volaterrae. At Rome, neither flies, 
nor dogs ever enter the temple of Hercules in the Cattle 
Market." . . . 

FISH. 

Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar 
to the Ancients than were the inhabitants of the vast 
Ocean, and not knowing much about them, their habits 
and ways, took "omne ignotum pro magnifico." 

We have seen the union of Man and Beast, and Man 
and Bird ; and Man and Fish was just as common, and 
perhaps more ancient than either of the former for 
Berosus, the Chaldean historian, gives us an account of 
Cannes, or Hea, who corresponded to the Greek Cronos, 
who is identified with the fish-headed god so often re- 
presented on the sculptures from Nimroud, and of whom, 
clay figures have been found at Nimroud and Khorsabad, 
as well as numerous representations on seals and gems. 

Of this mysterious union of Man and Fish, Berosus 
says : " In the beginning there were in Babylon a great 
numberof men of various races, who had colonised Chaldea. 
They lived without laws, after the manner of animals. But 
in the first year there appeared coming out of the Ery- 
thrian Sea (Persian Gulf} on the coast where it borders 
Babylonia, an animal endowed with reason, named 
Oannes. He had all the body of a fish, but below the 
head of the fish another head, which was that of a man ; 
also the feet of a man, which came out of its fish's tail. 
He had a human voice, and its image is preserved to 
this day. This animal passed the day time among men, 
taking no nourishment. It taught them the use of letters, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



207 



of sciences, and 
of arts of every 
kind ; the rules 
for the founda- 
tion of towns, 
and the build- 
ing of temples, 
the principles of 
laws, and geo- 
metry, the sow- 
ing of seeds, 
and the harvest ; 
in one word, it 
gave to men all 
that conduced 
to the enjoy- 
ment of life. 
Since that time 
nothing excel- 
lent has been 
invented. At 
the time of sun- 
set, this monster 
Cannes threw it- 
self into the sea, 
and passed the 
night beneath 
the waves, for it 
wasamphibious. 
Rewrote a book 
upon the begin- 
ningof all things, 
and of Civilisation, which he left to mankind. 




208 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Helladice quotes the same story, and calls the com- 
posite being Oes ; while another writer, Hyginus, calls 
him Euahanes. M. Lenormant thinks that it is evident 
that this latter name is more correct than Cannes, for it 
points to one of the Akkadian names of Hea " Hea- 
Khan," Hea, the fish and must be identified with the 
fish-God in the illustration. 

Alexander Polyhistor, who mainly copied from Bero- 
sus, says that Cannes wrote concerning the generation 
of Mankind, of. their different ways of life, and of their 
civil polity ; and the following is the purport of what 
he wrote : 

" There was a time in which there existed nothing 
but darkness, and an abyss of waters, wherein resided 
most hideous beings, which were produced on a twofold 
principle. There appeared men, sonic of whom were 
furnished with two wings, others with four, and two 
faces. They had one body, but two heads ; the one 
that of a man, the other of a woman ; they were likewise 
in their several organs both male and female. Other 
human beings were to be seen with the legs and horns 
of a goat ; some had horse's feet, while others united 
the hind-quarters of a horse with the body of a man, 
resembling in shape the hippocentaurs. Bulls likewise 
were bred then with the heads of men, and dogs with 
fourfold bodies, terminated in their extremities with the 
tails of fishes ; horses also with the heads of dogs ; men, 
too, and other animals, with the heads and bodies of 
horses, and the tails of fishes. In short, there were 
creatures in which were combined the limbs of every 
species of animals. In addition to these, fishes, reptiles, 
serpents, with other monstrous animals, which assumed 
each other's shape and countenance. Of all which were 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 209 

preserved delineations in the temple of Belus, at 
Babylon." 

But, undoubtedly, the earliest representation of the 
real Merman half-man, half-fish comes to us from the 
uncovered palace of Khorsabad. On a portion of its 
sculptured walls is a representation of Sargon, the father 
of Sennacherib, sailing on his expedition to Cyprus, 
B.C. 720 on which occasion he had wooden images of 




the gods made and thrown overboard in order to ac- 
company him on his voyage. Among these is Hea, or 
Cannes, which I venture to assert is the first representa- 
tion of a Merman. 

In Hindoo Mythology, one of the incarnations, or 
avatars of Vishnu, represents him as issuing from the 
mouth of a fish. The God Dagon (Dag in Hebrew, 
signifying fish) was probably Cannes or Hea and Ater- 
gatis was depicted as a Mermaid, half-woman, half-fish. 



2 io CURIOUS CREATURES. 

The Greeks worshipped her as Astarte, and later on as 
Venus Aphrodite she was perfect woman, still, how- 
ever, born of the Sea-foam, and attended by Tritons or 
Mermen. 

These Tritons and Nereids, male and female, were 
firmly believed in by both Greek and Roman who both 
depicted them alike the Triton, sometimes having a 
trident, sometimes without, but both Triton, and Nereid, 
perfect man and woman, of high types of manly and femi- 
nine beauty, to the waist below which was the body of 
a fish of the Classical dolphin type. So ingrained have 
these forms become in humanity, that it would seem 
almost impossible to realise a Merman, or Mermaid, other 
than as usually depicted. 

Pliny, of course, tells about them: "A deputation 
of persons from Olisipo (Lisbon) that had been sent for 
the purpose, brought word to the Emperor Tiberius 
that a Triton had been both seen and heard in a certain 
cavern, blowing a Conch shell, and of the form they are 
usually represented. Nor yet is the figure generally 
attributed to the nereids at all a fiction, only in them 
the portion of the body that resembles the human figure, 
is still rough all over with scales. For one of these 
creatures was seen upon the same shores, and, as it died, 
its plaintive murmurs were heard, even by the inhabi- 
tants, at a distance. 

"The legatus of Gaul, too, wrote word to the late 
Emperor Augustus, that a considerable number of nereids 
had been found dead upon the sea-shore. I have, too, 
some distinguished informants of equestrian rank, who 
state that they themselves once saw, in the Ocean of 
Gades, a sea-man, which bore in every part of his body, 
a perfect resemblance to a human being, and that during 



212 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the night he would climb up into ships ; upon which the 
side of the vessel, where he seated himself, would in- 
stantly sink downward, and, if he remained there any 
considerable time, even go under water." 

jElian tells us, that it is reported that the great sea 
which surrounds the Island of Taprobana (Ceylon} con- 
tains an immense multitude of fishes and whales, and 
some of them have the heads of lions, panthers, rams, 
and other animals ; and (which is more wonderful still) 
some of the Cetaceans have the form of Satyrs. 

Gesner obligingly depicts this Pan, Sea Satyr, Ichthyo 




centaurus, or Sea Demon, as he is indifferently called, and 
wants to pass it off as a veritable Merman, probably on 
account of its human-like trunk. He also quotes ./Elian 
as to the authenticity of this monster, and he gives a 
picture of another Man-fish, which he says was seen at 
Rome, on the third of November, 1523. Its size was 
that of a boy about five years of age. (See next page.) 
Mermen and Mermaids do not seem to affect any par- 
ticular district, they were met with all over the world 
and records of their having been seen, come to us from 
all parts. That was well, and occurred in the ages of 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 213 

faith, but now the materialism of the present age would 
shatter, if it could, our cherished belief in these Marine 
eccentricities, and would fain have us to credit that all 
those that have been seen, were some of the Phocidae, 
such as a " Dugong," or else they would attempt to 
persuade us that a beautiful mermaid, with her comb 
and looking-glass, was neither more nor less than a repul- 
sive-looking " Manatee." 

Sir J. Emerson Tennent quotes in his " Natural 




History of Ceylon " from the description of one of the 
Dutch Colonial Chaplains, named Valentyn, who wrote 
an account of the Natural History of Amboyna. He 
says that in 1663, a lieutenant in the Dutch army was 
with some soldiers on the sea-beach at Amboyna, when 
they all saw mermen swimming near the beach. He 
described them as having long and flowing hair, of a 
colour between grey and green. And he saw them again, 
after an interval of six weeks, when he was in company 
with some fifty others. He also says that these Marine 



2i 4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Curiosities, both male and female, have been taken at 
Amboyna : and he cites a special one, of which he gives 
a portrait, that was captured by a district visitor of the 
Church, and presented by him to the Governor. 

This last animal enjoyed European fame, as in 1716, 
whilst Peter the Great was the guest of the British 
Ambassador at Amsterdam, the latter wrote to Valentyn, 
asking that the marvel should be sent over for the 
Czar's inspection but it came not. Valentyn also tells 
how, in the year 1404, a mermaid, tempest-tossed, was 
driven through a breach in a dyke at Edam, in Holland, 
and was afterwards taken alive in the lake of Parmen, 
whence she was carried to Haarlem. The good Dutch 
vrows took kindly care of her, and, with their usual 
thriftiness, taught her a useful occupation, that of spin- 
ning ; nay, they Christianised her and she died a 
Roman Catholic, several years after her capture. 

The authentic records, if trust can be placed in them, 
are various and many but are hardly worth recapitu- 
lating because of their sameness, and the smile of 
incredulity which their recital provokes. 

Let us therefore turn to the monarch of the deep, the 
Whale and of this creature we get curious glimpses 
from the Northern Naturalists ; but, before investigating 
this authentic denizen of ocean, we will examine some 
whose title to existence is not quite so clearly made out. 
Olaus Magnus gives us an introduction to some of 
" The horrible Monsters of the Coast of Norway. There 
are monstrous fish on the Coasts or Sea of Norway, of 
unusual Names, though they are reputed a kind of 
Whales; and, if men look long on them they will fright 
and amaze them. Their forms are horrible, their heads 
square, all set with prickles, and they have sharp and 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 215 

long Horns round about, like a tree rooted up by the 
roots : they are ten or twelve Cubits long, very black, 
and with huge eyes, the Compass whereof (i.e., of the fish} 
is above eight or ten Cubits : the apple of the eye is of 
one Cubit, and is red and fiery coloured, which in the 
dark night appears to Fisher-men afar off under Waters, 




as a burning Fire, having hairs like Goose- Feathers, thick 
and long, like a beard hanging down ; the rest of the 
body, for the greatness of the head, which is square, 
is very small, not being above fourteen or fifteen cubits 
long ; one of these Sea Monsters will drown easily many 
great ships, provided with many strong Marriners." 

He also speaks of a Cetacean, called a Physeter : 
" The Whirlpool, or Prister, is of the kind of Whales, two 
hundred Cubits long, and is very cruel. For, to the 
danger of Sea men, he will sometimes raise himself 
beyond the Sail yards, and cast such floods of Waters 
above his head, which he had sucked in, that with a 
cloud of them, he will often sink the strongest ships, or 
expose the Marriners to extream danger. This Beast 
hath also a long and large round mouth like a Lamprey, 
whereby he sucks in his meat or water, and by his 



216 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



weight cast upon the Fore or Hinder-Deck, he sinks, and 
drowns a ship. 

" Sometimes, not content to do hurt by water onely, 
as I said, he will cruelly over throw the ship like any 
small Vessel, striking it with his back, or tail. He hath 
a thick black Skin, all his body over ; long fins, like to 
broad feet, and a forked tail 15 or 20 foot broad, 
wherewith he forcibly binds any parts of the ship, he 
twists it about. A Trumpet of War is the fit remedy 

against him, by 
reason of the 
sharp noise, 
which he can- 
not endure : 
and by casting 
out huge great 
Vessels, that 
hinders this 
Monster's pas- 
sage, or for 
him to play 




y*in 



and Guns, with 

the sound thereof he is more frighted, than with a Stone, 
or Iron Bullett ; because this Ball loscth its force, being 
hindered by his Fat, or by the Water, or wounds but a 
little, his most vast body, that hath a Rampart of mighty 
Fat to defend it. Also, I must add, that on the Coasts 
of Norway, most frequently both Old and New Monsters 
are seen, chiefly by reason of the inscrutable depth of the 
Waters. Moreover, in the deep Sea, there are many kinds 
of fishes that are seldome or never seen by Man." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



217 



We have the saying, " Throw a tub to the Whale," and 
we not only find that it is the proper treatment to con- 




ciliate Physeters, but Gesner shows us the real thing 
applied to Whales, trumpet and all complete, and he also 
shows us the close affinity between the Whale and the 




Physeter, in the accompanying illustration, which depicts 
a whale uprearing, and coming down again on an unfor- 
tunate vessel. 

There is another Whale, described by Gesner, which 
he calls the " Trol " whale, or in German, " Teufelwal," 
or Devil Whale. This whale lies asleep on the water, 
and is of such a deceptive appearance that seamen 
mistake it for an island, and cast anchor into it, a 
proceeding which this peculiar class of whale does not 



2i8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

appear to take much heed of. But, when it comes to 
lighting a fire upon it, and cooking thereon, it naturally 




wakes up the whale. It is of this " TeOfelwal " that 
Milton writes (" Paradise Lost," Bk. i., 1. 200) : 

"Or that sea-beast 

Leviathan, which God of all His works 
Created hugest that swim the ocean-stream. 
Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam, . 
The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff, 
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, 
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind, 
Moors by his side under the lee, while night 
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays." 

And the same story is told in the First Voyage of 
Sindbad the Sailor, or, as Mr. Lane, whose translation 
(ed. 1883) I use, calls him, Es-Sindiba~d of the Sea: 
"We continued our voyage until we arrived at an island 
like one of the gardens of Paradise, and at that island, 
the master of the ship brought her to anchor with us. 
He cast the anchor, and put forth the landing plank, 
and all who were in the ship landed upon that island. 
They had prepared for themselves fire-pots, and they 
lighted the fires in them, and their occupations were 
various : some cooked, others washed, and others amused 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 219 

themselves. I was among those who were amusing them- 
selves upon the shores of the island, and the passengers 
were assembled to eat and drink, and play and sport. 
But while we were thus engaged, lo, the master of the 
ship, standing upon its side, called out with his loudest 
voice, ' O ye passengers, whom may God preserve ! come 
up quickly into the ship, hasten to embark, and leave 
your merchandise, and flee with your lives, and save 
yourselves from destruction ; for this apparent island 
upon which ye are, is not, in reality, an island, but it is 
a great fish that hath become stationary in the midst of 
the sea, and the sand hath accumulated upon it, so that 
it hath become like an island, and trees have grown upon 
it, since times of old ; and, when ye lighted upon it the 
fire, it felt the heat, and put itself in motion, and now it 
will descend with you into the sea, and ye will all be 
drowned ; then seek for yourselves escape before de- 
struction, and leave the merchandise ! ' The passengers, 
therefore, hearing the words of the master of the ship, 
hastened to go up into the vessel, leaving the merchan- 
dise, and their other goods, and their copper cooking- 
pots, and their fire-pots ; and some reached the ship, 
and others reached it not. The island had moved, and 
descended to the bottom of the sea, with all that were 
upon it, and the roaring sea, agitated with waves, closed 
over it." 

Olaus Magnus, too, tells of sleeping whales being 
mistaken for islands : " The Whale hath upon its Skin 
a superficies, like the gravel that is by the sea side ; so 
that oft times when he raiseth his back above the waters, 
Sailors take it to be nothing else but an Island, and sayl 
unto it, and go down upon it, and they strike in piles 
upon it, and fasten them to their ships : they kindle 



220 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

fires to boyl their meat; until at length the Whale 
feeling the fire, dives down to the bottome; and such 
as are upon his back, unless they can save themselves 
by ropes thrown forth of the ship, are drown'd. This 
Whale, as I have said before of the Whirlpool and 
Pristes, sometimes so belcheth out the waves that he 
hath taken in, that, with a Cloud of Waters, oft times, 
he will drown the ship ; and when a Tempest ariseth at 
Sea, he will rise above water, that he will sink the ships, 
during these Commotions and Tempests. Sometimes he 
brings up Sand on his back, upon which, when a Tem- 
pest comes, the Marriners are glad that they have found 
Land, cast Anchor, and are secure on a false ground ; 
and when as they kindle their fires, the Whale, so soon 
as he perceives it, he sinks down suddenly into the 
depth, and draws both men and ships after him, unless 
the Anchors break." 

But apropos of the whale casting forth such quantities 
of water, it is, as a matter of fact, untrue. The whale 
has a tremendously strong exhalation, and when it 
breathes under water, its breath sends up two columns 
of spray, but, if its head is above water, it cannot 
spout. 

One thing in favour of whales, is " The Wonderful 
affection of the whales towards their young. Whales, 
that have no Gills, breathe by Pipes, which is found but 
in few creatures. They carry their young ones, when 
they are weak and feeble ; and if they be small, they 
take them in at their mouths. This they do also when 
a Tempest is coming ; and after the Tempest, they Vomit 
them up. When for want of water their young are 
hindered, that they cannot follow their Dams, the Dams 
take water in their mouths, and cast it to them like a 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 221 

river, that she may so free them from the Land they 
are fast upon. Also she accompanies them long, when 




they are grown up ; but they quickly grow up, and 
increase ten years." 

According to Olaus Magnus, there be many kinds 
of whales: "Some are hairy, and of four Acres in 
bigness; the Acre is 240 foot long and 120 broad; 
some are smooth skinned, and those are smaller, and 
are taken in the West and Northern Sea ; some have 
their Jaws long and full of teeth; namely, 12 or 14 
foot long, and the Teeth are 6, 8, or 12 foot long. But 
their two Dog teeth, or Tushes, are longer than the rest, 
underneath, like a Horn, like the teeth of Bores, or 
Elephants. This kind of whale hath a fit mouth to eat, 
and his eyes are so large, that fifteen men may sit in 
the room of each of them, and sometimes twenty, or 
more, as the beast is in quantity. 

" His horns are 6 or 7 foot long, and he hath 250 
upon each eye, as hard as horn, that he can stir stiff 
or gentle, either before or behind. These grow together, 
to defend his eyes in tempestuous weather, or when any 



222 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



other Beast that is his enemy sets upon him ; nor is it 
a wonder, that he hath so many Horns, though they be 




very troublesome to him ; when, as between his eyes, 
the space of his forehead is 15 or 20 foot." 

" The Spermaceti whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the 
subject of a curious story, according to Olaus Magnus. 
He declares Ambergris is the sperm of the male Whale, 
which is not received by the female. " It is scattered 
wide on the sea, in divers figures, of a blew colour, but 
more tending to white ; and these are glew'd together ; 
and this is carefully collected by Marriners, as I observed, 
when, in my Navigation I saw it scattered here and there : 
This they sell to Physitians, to purge it ; and when it is 
purged, they call it Amber-grcese, and they use it against 
the Dropsie and Palsie, as a principal and most pretious 
unguent. It is white ; and if it be found, that is of the 
colour of Gyp, it is the better. It is sophisticated with 
the powder of Lignum, Aloes, Styrax, Musk, and some 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 223 

other things. But this is discovered because that which 
is sophistocated will easily become soft as Wax, but 
pure Amber-greese will never melt so. It hath a corro- 
borating force, and is good against swoundings and the 
Epilepsie." 

As a matter of fact, it is believed to be a morbid 
secretion in the intestinal canal of the whale, originating 
in its bile. It is found in its bowels, and also floating 
on the sea, grey-coloured, in lumps weighing from half 
an ounce to one hundred pounds. Its price is about 
3 per oz. It is much used in perfumery, but not in 
medicine, at least in Europe : but in Asia and Africa, 
it is, in some parts, so used, and also in cookery. 

Olaus Magnus, too, tells us of the benefits the whale 
confers on the inhabitants of the cold and dreary North. 
How they salt the flesh for future eating, and the use- 
fulness of the fat for lighting and warming through the 
long Arctic winter, while the small bones are used as 
fuel. Of the skin of this useful mammal, they make 
Belts, Bags, and Ropes, whilst a whole skin will clothe 
forty men. But these are not all its uses. 

" Having spoken that the bodies of Whales are very 
large, for their head, teeth, eyes, mouth and skin ; the 
bones require a place to be described ; and it is thus. 
Because the vehemency of Cold in the farther parts of 
the North, and horrid Tempests there, will hardly suffer 
Trees to grow up tall, whereof necessary houses may 
be builded : therefore provident Nature hath provided 
for the Inhabitants, that they may build their houses of 
the most vast Ribs of Sea Creatures, and other things 
belonging thereunto. For these monsters of the Sea, 
being driven to land, either by some others that are 
their Enemies, or drawn forth by the frequent fishing 



224 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

for them by men, that the Inhabitants there may make 
their prey of them, or whether they die and consume ; 
it is certain, that they leave such vast bones behind 
them, that whole Mansion Houses may be made of 
them, for Walls, Gates, Windows, Coverings, Seats, 
and for Tables also. For these Ribs are 20, 30, or 
more feet in length. Moreover the Back-bones, and 
Whirl-bones, and the Forked-bones of the vast head, 
are of no small bigness : and all these by the industry 
of Artists, are so fitted with Saws and Files, that the 




Carpenter in Wood, joyn'd together with Iron, can 
make nothing more compleat. 

" When, therefore, the flesh of this most huge Beast 
is eat and dissolved, onely his bones remain like a great 
Keel ; and when these are purged by Rain, and the 
Ayr, they raise them up like a house, by the force of 
men that are called unto it. Then by the industry of 
the Master Builder, Windows being placed on the top 
of the house, or sides of the Whale, it is divided into 
many convenient Habitations; and gates are made of 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 225 

the same Beasts Skin, that is taken off long before, for 
that and some other use, and is hardened by the sharp- 
ness of the winds. Also a part within this Keel raised 
up like a house, they make several Hog Sties and 
places for other creatures, as the fashion is in other 
houses of Wood ; leaving always under the top of this 
structure, a place for Cocks, that serve instead of 
Clocks, that men may be raised to their labour in the 
night, which is there continual in the Winter-time. 
They that sleep between these Ribs, see no other 
Dreams, than as if they were always toiling in the Sea- 
waves, or were in danger of Tempests, to suffer ship- 
wreck." 

Besides men, Whales had their foes, in the deep, and 
there was, according to Du Bartas, one very formidable 
and cunning enemy, in the shape of a bird : 

" Meanwhile the Langa, skimming, (as it were,) 
The Ocean's surface, seeketh everywhere, 
The hugy Whale ; where slipping in (by Art), 
In his vast mouth, shee feeds upon his Hart." 

But it is cheering to find, on the authority of the 
same author, that he also has a helpful friend : 

" As a great Carrak, cumbred and opprest 
With her-self's burthen, wends not East and West, 
Star-boord, and Lar-boord, with so quick Careers 
As a small Fregat, or swift Pinnass steers ; 
And as a large and mighty limbed Steed, 
Either of Friseland, or of German breed, 
Can never manage half so readily, 
As Spanish Jennet, or light Barbarie ; 
So the huge Whale hath not so nimble motion 
As smaller fishes that frequent the Ocean ; 
But, sometimes, rudely 'gainst a Rock he brushes, 
Or in some roaring straight he blindly rushes, 

2 A 



226 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



And scarce could live a Twelve month to an end, 
But for the little Musculus (his friend), 
A little Fish, that, swimming still before, 
Directs him safe from Rock, from shelf and shoar." 

But we have only spoken of a very few varieties of 
Whales ; some yet remain, which may be styled " fancy " 
Whales. At all events, they are lost to our times. Herodo- 
tus tells us that in the 
Borysthenes (Dneiper) 
were " large whales 
without any spinal 
bones, which they 
call Antacaei, fit for 
salting." Then, 
Gesner gives us varie- 
ties of Whales, of 
which we know no- 
thing. There is the 
bearded and maned 
creature with a face 
somewhat resem- 
bling that of a human 
being, found only in 
the remotest North, 
~ and there is the hairy 
whale, Cetum Capillatunt vl Crinitum, or Germanice, 
Haarwal, but no particulars of this curious creature 
are given. 

He presents us with the image of a Cetacean, which 
he calls an Indian Serpent but he evidently is so 
doubtful of the creature's authenticity that he tells us 
that Hieronimus Cardanus sent it formerly to him. He 
cannot quite make it out, with its monkey's head, and 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 



227 



paws, but points out that it must be an aquatic animal, 
because of its tail. 




In his Addenda et Emendanda, he gives, on the 
authority of Olaus Magnus, a picture of an unnamed 




Whale he says it was of great size, and had terrible 
teeth. 

He also gives us two or three curious pictures of 
now extinct Cetaceans, something like terrestrial animals 
or men. And the first is a Leonine Monster, and for 
its authority he quotes Rondeletius. 

This creature had none of its parts fitted to act as 
a marine animal of prey, but he says that Gisbertus 
(Horstius) Germanus, a physician at Rome, certifies that 



228 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

it was taken on the high seas, not long before the death 
of Pope Paul III., which took place A.D. 1549. It was 
of the size and shape of a Lion, it had four feet, not 
mutilated, or imperfect as those of the Seal, and not 
joined together as is the case with the beaver or duck, 




but perfect, and divided into toes with nails : a long 
thin tail ending in hair ; ears hardly visible, and its 
body covered with scales but he adds that Gisbertus 
found fault with the artist, who had made the feet 
longer than they ought to have been and the ears too 
large for an aquatic animal. 

Gesner also gives us (and so does Aldrovandus) 
pictures of the Monk and Bishop fishes. The Monk- 
fish, he says, was caught off Norway, in a troubled sea : 
and he quotes Bceothius as describing a similar monster 
found in the Firth of Forth. The Bishop-fish was only 
seen off the coast of Poland, A.D. 1531. 

The existence of these marine monsters had, at all 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



229 



events, very wide credence, even if they never existed, 
for Sluper, whom I have before quoted, gives, in his 




curious little book, two pictures of these two fishes (more 
awful than Gesner did). Of the Sea Monk he says : 

" La Mer poissons en abondance apporte, 
Par dons divins que devons estimer. 
Mais fort estrange est le Moyne de Mer, 
Qui est ainsi que ce pourtrait le porte." 



2 3 o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

And of the Sea Bishop : 

" La terre n'a Evesques seulement, 
Qui sot p bulle en grad honeur et tiltre, 
L'evesque croist en mer sembablement, 
Ne parlat point, cobien qu'il porte Mitre.' 




And Du Bartas writes of them, as if all in air, or on 
the earth, had its double in the sea and he specially 
mentions these piscine ecclesiastics : 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 231 

" Sens have (as well as skies) Sun, Moon, and Stars ; 
(As well as ayre) Swallows, and Rooks, and Stares ; 
(As well as earth) Vines, Roses, Nettles, Millions, 1 
Pinks, Gilliflowers, Mushrooms, and many millions 
Of other Plants (more rare and strange than these) 
As very fishes living in the Seas. 
And also Rams, Calfs, Horses, Hares, and Hogs, 
Wolves, Lions, Urchins, Elephants and Dogs, 
Yea, Men and Mayds ; and (which I more admire 2 ) 
The m'ytred Bishop, and the cowled Fryer ; 
Whereof, examples, (but a few years since) 
Were shew'n the Norways, and Polonian Prince." 

Was the strange fish that Stow speaks of in his 
Annales one of these two? " A.D. 1187. Neere unto 
Orforde in Suffolke, certaine Fishers of the sea tooke 
in their Nettes, a Fish having the shape of a man in all 
pointes, which Fish was kept by Bartlemew de Glanville, 
Gustos of the castle of Orforde, in the same Castle, by 
the space of sixe monethes, and more, for a wonder : 
He spake not a word. All manner of meates he gladly 
did eate, but more greedilie raw fishe, after he had 
crusshed out all the moisture. Oftentimes he was 
brought to the Church where he showed no tokens of 
adoration. At length, when he was not well looked to, 
he stale away to the Sea and never after appeared." 
If this was not the real Simon Pure, yet I think it may 
put in a claim as a first-class British production, and, 
as far as I know, unique all other denizens of the 
deep having some trace of their watery habitat, either 
in wearing scales, or a tail. 

Following Du Bartas' idea, let us take some marine 
animals which have a somewhat similar counterpart on 
shore. 

Gesner gives us the picture, Olaus Magnus gives us 

1 Melons. 2 Wonder at. 



232 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the veracious history, of the Sea-cow : " The Sea Cow 
is a huge Monster, strong, angry, and injurious; she 
brings forth a young one like to herself; yet not above 
two, but one often, which she loves very much, and 
leads it about carefully with her, whithersoever she 
swims to Sea, or goes on Land. Lastly this Creature 
is known to have lived 130 years, by cutting off her 
tail." 

Olaus Magnus calls the Seal, the Sea-calf; and with 
trifling exceptions, gives a fair account of its habits, 
only there are some points which differ from the modern 
Seal, at all events: "The Sea-Calf, which also in 

Latine is called Hel- 
ens, hath its name 
from the likeness of 
a Land-Calf, and it" 
hath a hard fleshy 
body ; and therefore 
it is hard to be 
killed, but by break- 
ing the Temples of 
the head. It hath a voice like a Bull, four feet, but 
not his ears ; because the manner and mansion of its 
life is in the Waters. Had it such ears, they would 
take in much Water, and hinder the swimming of it. 
. . . They will low in their sleep, thence they are 
called Calves. They will learn, and with their voyce 
and countenance salute the company, with a confused 
murmuring ; called by their names, they will answer, 
and no Creature sleeps more profoundly. The Fins 
that serve them for to swim in the Sea, serve for legs 
on Land, and they go hobling up and down as lame 
people do. Their Skins, though taken from their bodies, 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 233 

have always a sense of the Seas, and when the Sea 
goes forth, they will stand up like Bristles. The right 
Fin hath a soporiferous quality to make one sleep, if 
it be put under one's head. They that fear Thunder, 
think those Tabernacles best to live in, that are made 
of Sea-Calves Skins, because onely this Creature in the 
Sea, as an Eagle in the Ayr is safe and secure from the 
Stroke of Thunder. ... If the Sea be boisterous and 
rise, so doth the Sea Calfe's hair : if the Sea be calm, 
the hair is smooth ; and thus you may know the state 
of the Sea in a dead Skin. The Bothnick Marriners 
conjecture by their own Cloaths, that are made of these 
Skins, whether the Sea shall be calm, and their voyage 
prosperous, or they shall be in danger of Shipwreck. 
. . . These Creatures are so bold, that when they hear 
it thunder, and they see it clash and lighten, they are 
glad, and ascend upon the plain Mountains, as Frogs 
rejoyce against Rain." 

A very fine piece of casuistry is shown, in " the 
perplexity of those that eat the flesh of Sea-Calves in 
Lent" and it seems to be finally settled that, according 
to " the men of a more clear judgment, rejecting many 
Reasons, brought on both sides, do say, and prove, that 
when the Sea-Calf brings forth on the shore, if the 
Beast driven by the Hunter, run into the Woods, men 
must forbear to eat of it in Lent, when flesh is for- 
bidden ; but if he run to the Waters, one may fairly eat 
thereof." 

Gesner, in giving this delineation of a Sea-Horse, 
openly says that it is the Classical horse, as used by 
Neptunus ; but Olaus Magnus declares that " The Sea 
Horse, between Britany and Norway, is oft seen to have 
a head like a horse, and to neigh ; but his feet and 



234 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



hoof are cloven like to a Cow's ; and he feeds both on 
Land, and in the Sea. He is seldome taken, though he 




grow to be as big as an Ox. He hath a forked Tail 
like a Fish. 

" THE SEA-MOUSE. 

" The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and 
lays her Eggs there, and then covers them with Earth : 
on the 3<Dth day she digs it open again, and brings her 
young to the Sea, first blind, and, afterwards, he comes 
to see. 

" THE SEA HARE. 

" The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the 
Ocean, but so soon as he is caught, onely because he is 
suspected to be Venemous, how like so ever he is to a 
Hare, he is let loose again. He hath four Fins behind 
his Head, two whose motion is all the length of the 
fish, and they are long, like to a Hare's ears, and two 
again, whose motion is from the back, to the depth of 
the fishes belly, wherewith he raiseth up the weight of 
his head. This Hare is formidable in the Sea ; on the 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 235 

Land he is found to be as timorous and fearful as a 
hare." 

THE SEA- PIG. 

Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of 
this Sea Monster. Olaus Magnus, speaking of "The 
Monstrous Hog of the German Ocean" says : " I spake 
before of a Monstrous Fish found on the Shores of 
England, with a clear description of his whole body, and 
every member thereof, which was seen there in the year 
1532, and the Inhabitants made a Prey of it. Now I 




shall revive the memory of that Monstrous Hog that 
was found afterwards, Anno 1537, in the same German 
Ocean, and it was a Monster in every part of it. For 
it had a Hog's head, and a quarter of a Circle, like the 
Moon, in the hinder part of its head, four feet like a 
Dragon's, two eyes on both sides in his Loyns, and a 
third in his belly, inclining towards his Navel ; behind 
he had a forked Tail, like to other Fish commonly." 

THE WALRUS. 

Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, 
and Olaus Magnus writes, thus : " The Norway Coast, 



236 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

toward the more Northern parts, hath a great Fish, as 
big as Elephants, which are called Morsi, or Rostnari, 
may be they are (called) so from their sharp biting ; for, 
if they see any man on the Sea-shore, and can catch 
him, they come suddenly upon him, and rend him with 
their Teeth, that they will kill him in a trice. Therefore 
these Fish called Rosmari, or Morsi, have heads fashioned 
like to an Oxes, and a hairy Skin, and hair growing as 
thick as straw or corn-reeds, that lye loose very largely. 




They will raise themselves with their Teeth, as by 
Ladders to the very tops of Rocks, that they may feed 
on the Dewie Grasse, or Fresh Water, and role them- 
selves in it, unless in the mean time they fall very fast 
asleep, and rest upon the Rocks ; for then Fishermen 
make all the haste they can, and begin at the Tail, and 
part the Skin from the Fat ; and unto this that is parted, 
they put most strong Cords, and fasten them on the 
rugged rocks or Trees, that are near ; then they throw 
stones at his head, out of a Sling, to raise him, and they 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 237 

compel him to descend, spoiled of the greatest part of 
his Skin, which is fastned to the Ropes : he being 
thereby debilitated, fearful, and half dead, he is made 
a rich prey, especially for his Teeth, that are very 
pretious amongst the Scythians, the Muscovites, Russians, 
and Tartars, (as Ivory amongst the Indians,) by reason 
of its hardness, whiteness, and ponderousnesse. For 
which Cause, by excellent industry of Artificers they 
are made fit for handles for Javelins : And this is also 
testified by Mechovita, an historian of Poland, in his 
double Sarmatia, and Paulus Jovius after him, relates it 
by the Relation of one Demetrius, that was sent from the 
great Duke of Muscovy to Pope Clement the 7th." 

Although Olaus Magnus is very circumstantial in his 
detail as to the intense somnolence, and brutal flaying 
alive of the " thereby debilitated " Walrus, I can find no 
confirmation of either, in any other account on the 
contrary, in "A Briefe Note of the Morse and the use 
thereof," published in Hakluyt, it is described as very 
wakeful and vigilant, and certainly not an animal likely 
to have salt put on its tail after Magnus's manner : 

" In the voyage of Jacques Carthier, wherein he dis- 
covered the Gulfe of S. Laurance, and the said Isle of 
Ramea in the yeere 1534, he met with these beastes, 
as he witnesseth in these words : About the said island 
are very great beasts as great as oxen, which have two 
great teeth in their mouthes like unto elephant's teeth, 
and live in the Sea. Wee sawe one of them sleeping 
upon the banks of the water, and, thinking to take it, 
we went to it with our boates, but so soon as he heard 
us, he cast himselfe into the sea. Touching these 
beasts which Jacques Carthier saith to be as big as 
oxen, and to have teeth in their mouthes like elephants 



238 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

teeth ; true it is that they are called in Latine Boves 
tnarini or Vaccce marina, and in the Russian tongue 
tnorsses, the hides whereof I have scene as big as any 
ox hide, and being dressed, I have yet a piece of one 
thicker than any two oxe, or bul's hides in England. 

" The leather dressers take them to be excellent good 
to make light targets against the arrowes of the savages ; 
and I hold them farre better than the light leather 
targets which the Moores use in Barbaric against 
arrowes and lances, whereof I have scene divers in her 
Majesties stately armourie in the Toure of London. 
The teeth of the sayd fishes, whereof I have scene a 
dry flat full at once, are a foote and sometimes more in 
length ; and have been sold in England to the combe 
and knife makers at 8 groats and 3 shillings the pound 
weight, whereas the best ivory is solde for halfe the 
money ; the graine of the bone is somewhat more yel- 
low than the ivorie. One Mr. Alexander Woodson of 
Bristoll, my old friend, an excellent mathematician and 
skilful phisitian, shewed me one of these beasts teeth 
which were brought from the Isle of Ramea in the first 
prize, which was half a yard long, or very little lesse : 
and assured mee that he had made tryall of it in minis- 
tering medicine to his patients, and had found it as 
sovereigne against poyson as any unicorne's home." 



THE ZIPHIUS. 

This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined 
by comparison with the Seal it is devouring, is thus 
described by Magnus : " Because this Beast is con- 
versant in the Northern Waters, it is deservedly to be 
joined with other monstrous Creatures. The Sword- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 239 

fish is like no other, but in something it is like a 
Whale. He hath as ugly a head as an Owl : his 
mouth is wondrous deep, as a vast pit, whereby he 
terrifies and drives away those that look into it. His 




Eyes are horrible, his Back Wedge-fashion, or elevated 
like a Sword ; his snout is pointed. These often enter 
upon the Northern Coasts as Thieves and hurtful Guests, 
that are always doing mischief to ships they meet, by 
boring holes in them, and sinking them. 

" THE SAW FISH. 

" The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea ; the body 
is huge great, the head hath a crest, and is hard and 
dented like to a Saw. It will swim under ships and 
cut them, that the Water may come in, and he may feed 
on the men when- the ship is drowned." 

THE ORCA 

is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes 
it : " The Balaena (whale of some sorf) penetrates to 
our seas even. It is said that they are not to be seen 
in the ocean of Gades (Bay of Cadiz) before the winter 



2 4 o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

solstice, and that at periodical seasons they retire and 
conceal themselves in some calm capacious bay, in which 
they take a delight in bringing forth. This fact, how- 
ever, is known to the Orca, an animal which is particularly 
hostile to the Balaena, and the form of which cannot be 
in any way accurately described, but as an enormous 
mass of flesh, armed with teeth. This animal attacks 
the Balaena in its place of retirement, and with its teeth 
tears its young, or else attacks the females which have 
just brought forth, and, indeed, while they are still 
pregnant ; and, as they rush upon them, it pierces them 
just as though they had been attacked by the beak of 
a Liburnian Galley. The female Balsenae, devoid of all 
flexibility, without energy to defend themselves, and 
overburdened by their own weight ; weakened, too, by 
gestation, or else the pains of recent parturition, are 
well aware that their only resource is to take flight in the 
open sea, and to range over the whole face of the ocean ; 
while the Orcae, on the other hand, do all in their power 
to meet them in their flight, throw themselves in their 
way, and kill them either cooped up in a narrow passage, 
or else drive them on a shoal, or dash them to pieces 
against the rocks. When these battles are witnessed, 
it appears just as though the sea were infuriate against 
itself ; not a breath of wind is there to be felt in the 
bay, and yet the waves, by their pantings and their re- 
peated blows, are heaved aloft in a way which no whirl- 
wind could effect. 

" An Orca has been seen even in the port of Ostia, 
where it was attacked by the Emperor Claudius. It was 
while he was constructing the harbour there that this 
orca came, attracted by some hides, which, having been 
brought from Gaul, had happened to fall overboard there. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 241 

By feeding upon these for several days it had quite 
glutted itself, having made for itself a channel in the 
shoaly water. Here, however, the sand was thrown up 
by the action of the wind to such an extent that the 
creature found it quite impossible to turn round ; and 
while in the act of pursuing its prey, it was propelled 
by the waves towards the shore, so that its back came 
to be perceived above the level of the water, very much 
resembling in appearance the keel of a vessel turned 
bottom upwards. Upon this, Caesar ordered a number 
of nets to be extended at the mouth of the harbour, from 
shore to shore, while he himself went there with the 
Praetorian Cohorts, and so afforded a spectacle to the 
Roman people ; for boats assailed the monster, while the 
soldiers on board showered lances upon it. I, myself, 
saw one of the boats sunk by the water which the 
animal, as it respired, showered down upon it." 

Olaus Magnus thus writes " Of the fight between the 
Whale and the Orca. A Whale is a very great fish, 
about one hundred, or three hundred foot long, and the 
body is of a vast magnitude, yet the Orca, which is 
smaller in quantity, but more nimble to assault, and 
cruel to come on, is his deadly Enemy. An Orca is 
like a Hull turned inwards outward ; a Beast with 
fierce Teeth, with which, as with the Stern of a Ship, 
he rends the Whale's Guts, and tears its Calve's body 
open, or he quickly runs and drives him up and down 
with his prickly back, that he makes him run to Fords 
and Shores. But the Whale, that cannot turn its huge 
body, not knowing how to resist the wily Orca, puts all 
its hopes in flight ; yet that flight is weak, because this 
sluggish Beast, burdned by its own weight, wants one to 
guide her, to fly to the Foords, to escape the dangers." 

2 B 



242 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

THE DOLPHIN. 

Pliny says : " The Dolphin is an animal not only 
friendly to man, but a lover of music as well ; he is 
charmed by melodious concerts, and more especially by 
the notes of the water organ. He does not dread man, 
as though a stranger to him, but comes to meet ships, 
leaps and bounds to and fro, vies with them in swiftness, 
and passes them even when in full sail. 

" In the reign of the late Emperor Augustus, a dolphin 
which had been carried to the Lucrine Lake, conceived a 
most wonderful affection for the child of a certain poor 
man, who was in the habit of going that way from Baiae 
to Puteoli to school, and who used to stop there in the 
middle of the day, call him by his name of Simo, and 
would often entice him to the banks of the lake with 
pieces of bread which he carried for the purpose. At 
whatever hour of the day he might happen to be called 
by the boy, and although hidden and out of sight at the 
bottom of the water, he would instantly fly to the surface, 
and after feeding from his hand, would present his back 
for him to mount, taking care to conceal the spiny pro- 
jection of his fins in their sheath, as it were ; and so, 
sportively taking him up on his back, he would carry 
him over a wide expanse of sea to the school at Puteoli, 
and in a similar manner bring him back again. This 
happened for several years, until, at last, the boy hap- 
pened to fall ill of some malady, and died. The Dolphin, 
however, still came to the same spot as usual, with 
a sorrowful air, and manifesting every sign of deep 
affliction, until at last, a thing of which no one felt 
the slightest doubt, he died purely of sorrow and 
regret. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 243 

" Within these few years also, another at Hippo 
Diarrhytus, on the coast of Africa, in a similar manner 
used to receive his food from the hands of various 
persons, present himself for their caresses, sport about 
among the swimmers, and carry them on his back. 
On being rubbed with unguents by Flavianus, the then 
pro-consul of Africa, he was lulled to sleep, as it ap- 
peared, by the sensation of an odour so new to him, 
and floated about just as though he had been dead. 
For some months after this, he carefully avoided all 
intercourse with man, just as if he had received some 
affront or other; but, at the end of that time, he 
returned, and afforded just the same wonderful scenes 
as before. At last, the vexations that were caused 
them by having to entertain so many influential men 
who came to see this sight, compelled the people of 
Hippo to put the animal to death. . . . 

" Hegesidemus has also informed us, that, in the city 
of lasus (the island and city of Caria), there was another 
boy also, Hermias by name, who in a similar manner 
used to traverse the sea on a dolphin's back, but that, 
on one occasion, a tempest suddenly arising, he lost 
his life, and was brought back dead : upon which, the 
dolphin, who thus admitted that he had been the cause 
of his death, would not return to the sea, but lay down 
upon dry land and there expired." 

Du Bartas gives us a new trait in the Dolphin's 
character : 

" Even as the Dolphins do themselves expose, 
For their live fellows, and beneath the waves 
Cover their dead ones under sandy graves." 



244 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



THE NARWHAL, 

generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is 
thus shown in one place, by Gcsner ; and, rough though 
it is, it is far more like the Narwhal's horn than is 
the other, also, in his work, of a Sea Rhinoceros or 

Narwhal engaged 
in combat with an 
outrageous - sized 
Lobster, or Kraken, 
I know not which ; 
for, as we shall 
presently see, the 
Kraken is repre- 
sented as a Cray- 
fish or Lobster. It was the long twisted horn of the 
Narwhal which did duty for ages as the horn of the 
fabled Unicorn, a gift worthy to be presented by an 
Emperor to an Emperor. 

This sketch of Gesner's, he describes as a one-horned 
monster with a sharp nose, devouring a Gambarus. 





Glaus Magnus dismisses the Narwhal very curtly: "The 
Unicorn is a Sea Beast, having in his forehead a very 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 245 

great Horn, wherewith he can penetrate, and destroy the 
ships in his way, and drown multitudes of men. But 
divine goodnesse hath provided for the safety of Marriners 
herein ; for, though he be a very fierce Creature, yet is 
he very slow, that such as fear his coming may fly from 
him." 

The earlier voyagers who really saw the Narwhal, 
fairly accurately described it ; as Baffin, whose name is 
so familiar to us by the bay called after him : "As for 
the Sea Unicorne, it being a great fish, having a long 
horn or bone growing forth of his forehead or nostrill, 
such as Sir Martin Frobisher, in his second voyage 
found one, in divers places we saw them, which, if the 
home be of any good value, no doubt but many of 
them may be killed ; " and Frobisher, as reported in 
Hakluyt, says : " On this west shore we found a dead 
fish floating, which had in his nose a home streight, 
and torquet, (twisted) of length two yards lacking two 
ynches. Being broken in the top, here we might per- 
ceive it hollow, into the which some of our sailors, 
putting spiders, they presently died. I saw not the 
triall hereof, but it was reported unto me of a truth ; 
by the vertue thereof we supposed it to be the Sea 
Unicorne." 

THE SWAMFISCK. 

The accompanying illustration, though heading the 
chapter in Olaus Magnus regarding the Swamfisck and 
other fish, does not at all seem to elucidate the text : 
" The Variety of these Fish, or rather Monsters, is here 
set down, because of their admirable form, and many 
properties of Nature, as they often come to the Norway 
Shores amongst other Creatures, and they are catcht 



246 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

for their Fat, which they have in great plenty and 
abundance. For the Fisher-men purge it, by boyling it 
like flesh, on the fire, and they sell it to anoint leather, 
or for Oyl to burn in Lamps, to continue light, when 
it is perpetual darkness. Wherefore the first Monster 
that comes, is of a round form, in Norway called Swam- 
fisck, the greatest glutton of all other Sea-Monsters. 
For he is scarce satisfied, though he eat continually. 
He is said to have no distinct stomach ; and so what 
he eats turns into the thickness of his body, that he 




appears nothing else than one Lump of Conjoyned Fat. 
He dilates and extends himself beyond measure, and 
when he can be extended no more, he easily casts out 
fishes by his mouth because he wants a neck as other 
fishes do. His mouth and belly are continued one to 
the other. But this Creature is so thick, that when 
there is danger, he can, (like the Hedg-Hog) re-double 
his flesh, fat and skin, and contract and cover himself; 
nor doth he that but to his own loss, because fearing 
Beasts that are his Enemies, he will not open himself 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 247 

when he is oppressed with hunger, but lives by feeding 
on his own flesh, choosing rather to be consumed in 
part by himself, than to be totally devoured by Wild 
Beasts. If the danger be past, he will try to save 
himself. 

"THE SAHAB. 

"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, 
which hath small feet in respect of its great body, but 
he hath one long one, which he useth in place of a 
hand to defend all his parts ; and with that he puts 
meat into his mouth, and digs up grass. His feet are 
almost gristly, and made like the feet of a Cow or Calf. 
This Creature swimming in the water, breathes, and 
when he sends forth his breath, it returns into the Ayr, 
and he casts Water aloft, as Dolphins and Whales do. 



"THE CIRCHOS. 

" There is also another Monster like to that, called 
Circkos, which hath a crusty and soft Skin, partly black, 
partly red, and hath two cloven places in his Foot, that 
serve for to make three Toes. The right foot of this 
Animal is very small, but the left is great and long ; 
and, therefore, when he walks all his body leans on the 
left side, and he draws his right foot after him : When 
the Ayr is calm he walketh, but when the Wind is high, 
and the Sky cloudy, he applies himself to the Rocks, and 
rests unmoved, and sticks fast, that he can scarce be 
pulled off. The nature of this is wonderful enough : 
which in calm Weather is sound, and in stormy Weather 
is sick." 

The Northern Naturalists did not enjoy the monopoly 



248 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



of curious fish, for Zahn gives us a very graphic picture 
of the different sides of two 
small fish captured in Den- 
mark and Norway (i.e., pre- 
sumably in some northern 
region) with curious letters 
marked on them. He does 
not attempt to elucidate the 
writing ; and as it is of no 
known language, we may 
charitably put it down to the 
original " Volapiik." He 
also favours us with the 
effigies of a curious fish found in Silesia in 1609, also 
ornamented with an inscription in an unknown tongue. 





He also supplies us with the portrait of a pike, which 
was daintily marked with a cross on its side and a star 
on its forehead. 

But too much space would be taken up if I were to 
recount all the piscine marvels that he relates. 

Aristotle mentions that fish do not thrive in cold 
weather, and he says that those which have a stone in 
their head, as the chromis, labrax, scisena, and phagrus, 
suffer most in the winter ; for the refrigeration of the 
stone causes them to freeze, and be driven on shore. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 249 

Sir John Mandeville, speaking of the kingdom of Talo- 
nach, says : " And that land hath a marvayle that is 




in no other land, for all maner of fyshes of the sea 
cometh there once a yeare, one after the other, and 
lyeth him neere the lande, sometime on the lande, and 
so lye three dayes, and men of that lande come thither 
and take of them what he will, and then goe these 
fyshes awaye, and another sort commeth, and lyeth also 
three dayes and men take of them, and do thus all 
maner of fyshes tyll all have bene there, and menne 
have taken what they wyll. And men wot not the 
cause why it is so. But they of that Countrey saye, 
that those fyshes come so thyther to do worship to 
theyr king, for they say he is the most worthiest king 
of the worlde, for he hath so many wives, and geateth 
so many children of them." (See next page.) 

I know of no other fish of such an accommodating 
nature, except it be those of whom Ser Marco Polo 
speaks, when writing of Armenia: "There is in this 
Country a certain Convent of Nuns called St. Leonard's, 



2 5 o CURIOUS CREATURES. 

about which I have to tell you a very wonderful circum- 
stance. Near the church in question there is a great 
lake at the foot of a mountain, and in this lake arc found 
no fish, great or small, throughout the year till Lent 
come. On the first day of Lent they find in it the 
finest fish in the world, and great store, too, thereof; 




and these continue to be found till Easter Eve. After 
that they are found no more till Lent come round 
again ; and so 'tis every year. Tis really a passing 
great miracle ! " 

Edward Webbe, "Master Gunner," whose travels 
were printed in 1590, informs us that in the "Land of 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 251 

Siria there is a River having great store of fish like 
unto Samon-trouts, but no Jew can catch them, though 
either Christian and Turk shall catch them in abundance, 
with great ease." 

Pliny has some curious natural phenomena to tell us 
about, of showers of Milk, Blood, Flesh, Iron, and Wool ; 
nay, he even says that, the year of this woolly shower, 
when Titus Annius Milo was pleading his own cause, 
there fell a shower of baked tiles ! 

After this we can swallow Olaus Magnus's story of a 




rain of fishes very comfortably, especially as he supple- 
ments it with showers of frogs and worms. 

He gives a curious story of the black river at the 
New Fort in Finland : " There is a Fort in the utmost 
parts of Finland that is under the Pole, and it belongs 
to the Kingdom of Sweden, and it is called the New- 
Fort, because it was wonderfull cunningly built, and 
fortified by Nature and Art ; for it is placed on a round 
Mountain, having but one entrance and outlet toward 
the West ; and that by a ship that is tyed with great 
Iron Chains, which by strong labour and benefit of 



2 5 2 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



Wheels, by reason of the force of the Waters, is drawn 
to one part of the River by night, by keepers appointed 
by the King of Sweden, or such as farm it. A vast 
river runs by this Castle, whose depth cannot be found ; 
it ariseth from the White Lake, and falls down by de- 
grees : at the bottome it is black, especially round this 
Castle, where it breeds and holds none but black Fish, 
but of no ill taste, as are Salmons, Trouts, Perch, Pikes, 
and other soft Fish. It produceth also the Fish Trcbius, 
that is black in Summer, and white in Winter, who, as 
Albertus saith, grows lean in the Sea ; but when he is 
a foot long, he is five fingers fat : This, seasoned with 
Salt, will draw Gold out of the deepest waters that it 
is fallen in, and make it flote from the bottome. At last, 
it makes the black Lake passing by Vibiirgum, as Nilus 
makes a black River, where he dischargeth himself. 

" When the Image of a Harper, playing, as it were, 
upon his Harp, in the middle of the Waters above them 




appears, it signifies some ill Omen, that the Governor of 
the Fort, or Captain shall suddenly be slain, or that the 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 253 

negligent and sleepy Watchman shall be thrown headlong 
from the high walls, and die by Martial Law. Also this 
water is never free from Ghosts and Visions that appear 
at all times ; and a man may hear Pipes sound, and 
Cymbals tinkle, to the shore." 

Aristotle mentions a fish called the Meryx that chewed 
the cud, and Pliny speaks of the Scarus, which, he says, 
"at the present day is the only fish that is said to 
ruminate, and feed on grass, and not on other fish." 
But he seems to have forgotten that in a previous place 
in the same book, he speaks of a large peninsula in the 
Red Sea, on the southern coast of Arabia, called Cadara, 
where "the sea monsters, just like so many cattle, 
were in the habit of coming on shore, and after feeding 
on the roots of shrubs, they would return ; some of them, 
which had the heads of horses, asses, and bulls, found a 
pasture in the crops of grain." 



THE REMORA. 

Of this fish Pliny writes : " There is a very small 
fish that is in the habit of living among the rocks, and 
is known as the Echeneis, MTTO TOV e%eiv vrja^. (From 
holding back ships.) It is believed that when this has 
attached itself to the keel of a ship, its progress is im- 
peded, and that it is from this circumstance that it takes 
its name. For this reason, also, it has a disgraceful 
repute, as being employed in love philtres, and for the 
purpose of retarding judgments and legal proceedings. 
... It is never used, however, for food. . . . Mucianus 
speaks of a Murex of larger size than the purple, with a 
head that is neither rough nor round ; and the shell of 
which is single, and falls in folds on either side. He 



2 5 4 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

tells us, also, that some of these creatures once attached 
themselves to a ship freighted with children of noble 
birth, who were being sent by Periander for the purpose 
of being castrated, and that they stopped its course in 
full sail ; and he further says, that the shell-fish which 
did this service are duly honoured in the temple of 
Venus, at Cnidos. Trebius Niger says that this fish is 
a foot in length, and five fingers in thickness, and that 
it can retard the course of vessels ; besides which, it has 
another peculiar property when preserved in salt, and 
applied, it is able to draw up gold which has fallen into 
a well, however deep it may happen to be." 

" But, Clio, wherefore art thou tedious 
In numbering Neptune's busie burgers thus ? 
If in his works thou wilt admire the worth 
Of the Sea's Soverain, bring but only forth 
One little Fish, whose admirable story 
Sufficeth sole to shewe his might and glory. 
Let all the Windes, in one Winde gather them, 
And (seconded with Neptune's strongest stream) 
Let all at once blowe all the stiffest gales 
Astern a Galley under all her sails ; 
Let her be holpen with a hundred Owers, 
Each lively handled by five lusty Rowers ; 
The Remora, fixing her feeble horn 
Into the tempest beaten Vessel's Stern, 
Stayes her stone still, while all her stout Consorts 
Saile thence, at pleasure, to their wished Ports, 
Then loose they all the sheats, but to no boot : 
For the charm'd Vessell bougeth not a foot ; 
No more than if, three fadom under ground, 
A score of Anchors held her fastly bound : 
No more than doth the Oak, that in the Wood, 
Hath thousand Tempests, (thousand times) withstood ; 
Spreading as many massy roots belowe, 
As mighty arms above the ground do growe." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 255 

THE DOG-FISH AND RAY. 

Olaus Magnus writes of " The cruelty of some Fish, 
and the kindness of others. There is a fish of the kind 
of Sea-Dogfish, called Boloma, in Italian, and in Norway, 
Haafisck, that will set upon a man swimming in the 
Salt- Waters, so greedily, in Troops, unawares, that he 
will sink a man to the bottome, not only by his biting, 
but also by his weight ; and he will eat his more tender 
parts, as his nostrils, fingers, &c., until such time as the 
Ray come to revenge these injuries ; which runs thorow 
the Waters armed with her natural fins, and with some 




violence drives away these fish that set upon the drown'd 
man, and doth what he can to urge him to swim out. 
And he also keeps the man, until such time as his spirit 
being quite gone ; and after some days, as the Sea 
naturally purgeth itself, he is cast up. This miserable 
spectacle is seen on the Coasts of Norway when men 
go to wash themselves, namely, strangers and Marriners 
that are ignorant of the dangers, leap out of their ships 
into the sea. For these Dogfish, or Boloma, lie hid 
under the ships riding at Anchor as Water Rams, that 
they may catch men, their malicious natures stirring 
them to it." 



256 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

THE SEA DRAGON. 

Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the 
most frightful-looking, but we know next to nothing 
about it. Pliny only cursorily mentions it thus : " The 
Sea Dragon again, if caught, and thrown on the sand, 
works out a hole for itself with its muzzle, with the 




most wonderful celerity." Olaus Magnus simply copies 
Pliny almost word for word. Gesner, from whom I 
have taken this illustration, merely classes it among the 
Rays, and gives no further information about it ; neither 
does Aldrovandus, from whom I have taken another 
picture. 

THE STING RAY. 

Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it 
marvellous powers, which it does not possess : " There 
is nothing more to be dreaded than the sting which 
protrudes from the tail of the Trygon, by our people 
known as the Pastinaca, a weapon five inches~in length. 
Fixing this in the root of a tree, the fish is able to kill 
it ; it can pierce armour, too, just as though with an 
arrow, and to the strength of iron it adds all the corro- 
sive qualities of poison." 




2 C 



258 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

SENSES OF FISHES. 

He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first 
of their hearing : " Among the marine animals, it is 
not probable that Oysters enjoy the sense of hearing, 
but it is said that immediately a noise is made, the 
Solen (razor-sheatli) will sink to the bottom ; it is for 
this reason, too, that silence is observed by persons 
while fishing at sea. Fishes have neither organs of hear- 
ing, nor yet the exterior orifice. And yet it is quite cer- 
tain that they do hear, for it is a well-known fact, that 
in some fish-ponds they are in the habit of being as- 
sembled to be fed by the clapping of the hands. In the 
fish-ponds, too, that belong to the Emperor, the fish are 
in the habit of coming, each kind, as it bears its name. So, 
too, it is said the Mullet, the Wolf-fish, the Salpa, and the 
Chromis, have a very exquisite sense of hearing, and that 
it is for this reason that they frequent shallow water. 

" It is quite manifest that fishes have the sense of 
smell also; for they are not all to be taken with the 
same bait, and are seen to smell at it before they seize 
it. Some, too, that are concealed in the bottom of holes 
are driven out by the fishermen, by the aid of the smell 
of salted fish ; with this he rubs the entrance of their 
retreat in the rock, immediately upon which they take 
to flight from the spot, just as though they had recog- 
nized the dead carcases of those of their kind. Then, 
again, they will rise to the surface at the smell of certain 
odours, such, for instance, as roasted sepia and polypus ; 
and hence it is that these baits are placed in the osier- 
kipes used for taking fish. They immediately take to 
flight upon smelling the bilge-water in a ship's hold, 
and more especially upon scenting the blood of fish. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 259 

" The Polypus cannot possibly be torn away from the 
rock to which it clings ; but upon the herb cunila being 
applied, the instant it smells it, the fish quits its hold. 
... All animals have the sense of touch, those even 
which have no other sense; for even in the oyster, 
and, among land animals, in the worm, this sense is 
found. I am strongly inclined to believe, too, that the 
sense of taste exists in all animals ; for why else should 
one seek one kind of food, and one another ? " 

ZOOPHYTES. 

Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, 
he says : " Indeed, for my own part, I am strongly 
of opinion that there is sense existing in those bodies 
which have the nature of neither animals nor vegetables, 
but a third, which partakes of them both : sea-nettles, 
and sponges, I mean. The Sea Nettle wanders to and 
fro by night, and at night changes its locality. These 
creatures are by nature a sort of fleshy branch, and are 
nurtured upon flesh. They have the power of producing 
an itching, smarting pain, just like that caused by the 
nettle found on land. For the purpose of seeking its 
prey, it contracts, and stiffens itself to the utmost pos- 
sible extent, and then, as a small fish swims past, it 
will suddenly spread out its branches, and so seize and 
devour it. At another time it will assume the appear- 
ance of being quite withered away, and let itself be 
tossed to and fro, by the waves, like a piece of sea-weed, 
until it happens to touch a fish. The moment it does 
so, the fish goes to rub itself against a rock, to get 
rid of the itching : immediately upon which, the nettle 
pounces upon it. By night also it is on the look-out 



260 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

for Scallops and Sea-urchins. When it perceives a hand 
approaching it, it instantly changes its colour, and con- 
tracts itself; when touched, it produces a burning sen- 
sation, and if ever so short a time is afforded, makes 
its escape. Its mouth is situate, it is said, at the root 
or lower part, and the excrements are discharged by a 
small canal situated above. 



" SPONGES. 

" We find three kinds of sponges mentioned ; the first 
are thick, very hard, and rough, and are called tragi : 
the second are thick, and much softer, and are called 
mani : of the third, being fine, and of a closer texture, 
tents for sores are made ; this last is known as Achillium, 
All of these sponges grow on rocks, and feed upon shell 
and other fish, and slime. 

"It would appear that these creatures, too, have some 
intelligence; for, as soon as ever they feel the hand 
about to tear them off, they contract themselves, and 
are separated with much greater difficulty : they do the 
same also, when the waves buffet them to and fro. 
The small shells that are found in them, clearly show 
that they live upon food ; about Torone it is even said 
that they will survive after they have been detached, 
and that they grow again from the roots which have 
been left adhering to the rock. They leave a colour 
similar to that of blood upon the rock from which they 
have been detached, and those, more especially, which 
are produced in the Syrtes of Africa." 

Olaus Magnus gives us the accompanying illustration 
of Zoophytes and Sponges. Of the latter, he says : 
" Sponges are much multiplied near the Coasts of Nor- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 261 

way ; the nature of it is, -that it agrees with other living 
creatures in the way of contracting, and dilating itself : 
yet some are immovable from rocks, and if they be 
broken off at the Roots, they grow again ; some are 




movable from place to place; and these are found in 
huge plenty on the foresaid shores. They are fed with 
mud, small fish, and oysters. When they are alive, 
they are black, as they are when they are wet." 

THE KRAKEN. 

This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern 
Seas, is scarcely a fable, because huge Calamaries are 
not infrequently seen. Poor Pontoppidan has often been 
considered a Danish Ananias, but there are authentic 
accounts of these enormous Cuttle-fish ; for instance, in 
1854, one was stranded at the Skag, in Jutland, which 
was cut in pieces by the fishermen in order to be used 
as bait, and filled many wheelbarrows. Another, either 
in 1860 or 1861, was stranded between Hillswick and 
Scalloway, on the west of Scotland, and its tentacles 



262 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

were sixteen feet long, the pedal arms about half as 
long, and its body seven feet. The French ship Alccton, 
on 3Oth November 1861, between Madeira and Teneriffe, 
slipped a rope with a running knot over an enormous 
calamary, but only brought a portion on board, the 
body breaking off. It was estimated at being sixteen 
to eighteen feet in length, without counting its arms. 
The legend of its sinking ships and taking sailors from 
them is common to many countries, even the Chinese 
and Japanese thus depicting them. 




Olaus Magnus gives us a graphic picture of a huge 
Polyp, thus seizing a sailor, and dragging him from 
his ship in spite of all his efforts to prevent him. On 
next page is a huge calamary shown with a man in 
its clutches. This is both in Gesner and Aldrovandus. 
But this terror to mariners had its master in the Conger 
eel. Gesner, who has taken his picture from some de- 
scription of the World, introduces it as a Sea-Serpent ; 
but Aristotle says that "the Congers devour the 
Polypi, which cannot adhere to them on account of the 



26 4 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



smoothness of their surface." Magnus also speaks of 
the antipathy between the two. 

According to Pliny, quoting Trebius Niger, the Polypus 
shows a fair amount of cunning : " Shell fish are desti- 
tute of sight, and, indeed, all other sensations but those 
which warn them of hunger, and the approach of danger. 
Hence it is that the Polypus lies in ambush till the 
fish opens its shell, immediately upon which, it places 
within it a small pebble, taking care, at the same time, 
to keep it from touching the body of the animal, lest, 




by making some movement, it should chance to eject it. 
Having made itself thus secure, it attacks its prey, and 
draws out the flesh, while the other tries to contract 
itself, but all in vain, in consequence of the separation 
of the shell, thus effected by the insertion of the wedge. 
" In addition to the above, the same author states 
that there is not an animal in existence, that is more 
dangerous for its powers of destroying a human being 
when in the water. Embracing his body, it counteracts 
his struggles, and draws him under with its feelers and 
its numerous suckers, when, as often is the case, it 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 265 

happens to make an attack upon a shipwrecked mariner 
or a child. If, however, the animal is turned over, it 
loses all its power; for when it is thrown upon its 
back, the arms open of themselves. 

" The other particulars which the same author has 
given, appear still more closely to border upon the 
marvellous. At Carteia, in the preserves there, a 
Polypus was in the habit of coming from the sea to the 
pickling tubs that were left open, and devouring the fish 
laid in salt there for it is quite astonishing how eagerly 
all sea animals follow even the very smell of salted 
condiments, so much so, that it is for this reason that 
the fishermen take care to rub the inside of the wicker 
fish-kipes with them. At last, by its repeated thefts 
and immoderate depredations, it drew down upon itself 
the wrath of the keepers of the works. Palisades were 
placed before them, but these the Polypus managed to 
get over by the aid of a tree, and was only caught at 
last by calling in the assistance of trained dogs, which 
surrounded it at night, as it was returning with its prey ; 
upon which, the keepers, awakened by the noise, were 
struck with alarm at the novelty of the sight presented. 

" First of all, the size of the Polypus was enormous 
beyond all conception : and then it was covered all over 
with dried brine, and exhaled a most dreadful stench. 
Who could have expected to find a Polypus there, or 
could have recognised it as such, under these circum- 
stances ? They really thought that they were joining 
battle with some monster, for at one instant, it would 
drive off the dogs by its horrible fumes, and lash at them 
with the extremities of its feelers ; while at another, it 
would strike them with its stronger arms, giving blows 
with so many clubs, as it were ; and it was only with 



266 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the greatest difficulty that it could be dispatched with 
the aid of a considerable number of three-pronged fish- 
spears. The head of this animal was shewn to Lucullus ; 
it was in size as large as a cask ol fifteen amphorae 
(about 135 gallons), and had a beard (iti tentaculcv), to use 
the expression of Trebius himself, which could hardly be 
encircled with both arms, full of knots, like those upon 
a club, and thirty feet in length ; the suckers, or cali- 
cules, as large as an urn, resembled a basin in shape, 
while the teeth again were of a corresponding large- 
ness : its remains, which were carefully preserved as a 
curiosity, weighed seven hundred pounds." 

Olaus Magnus says : " On the Coasts of Norway there 
is a Polypus, or creature with many feet, which hath a 
pipe on his back, whereby he puts to Sea, and he moves 
that sometimes to the right, and sometimes to the left. 
Moreover, with his Legs as it were by hollow places, 
dispersed here and there, and by his Toothed Nippers, 
he fastneth on every living Creature that comes near to 
him, that wants blood. Whatever he eats he heaps up 
in the holes where he resides : Then he casts out the 
Skins, having eaten the flesh, and hunts after fishes 
that swim to them : Also he casts out the shels, and 
hard outsides of Crabs that remain. He changeth his 
colour by the colour of the stone he sticks unto, especi- 
ally when he is frighted at the sight of his Enemy, the 
Conger. He hath 4 great middle feet, in all 8 ; a little 
body, which the great feet make amends for. He hath 
also some small feet that are shadowed and can scarce 
be perceived. By these he sustains, moves, and defends 
himself, and takes hold of what is from him : and he lies 
on his back upon the stones, that he can scarce be gotten 
off, onlesse you put some stinking smell to him." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 267 

CRAYFISH AND CRABS. 

Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish 
four cubits in length (six feet), and he claims for crabs 
a sovereign specific against bites of scorpions and snakes : 
" River-Crabs taken fresh and beaten up and drunk in 
water, or the ashes of them, kept for the purpose, are 
useful in all cases of poisoning, as a counter poison ; 
taken with asses' milk they are particularly serviceable 
as a neutralizer of the venom of the scorpion ; goat's 
milk or any other kind of milk being substituted, where 
asses' milk cannot be procured. Wine, too, should also 
be used in all such cases. River-Crabs beaten up with 
Ocimum, and applied to Scorpions, are fatal to them. 
They are possessed of similar virtues, also, for the bites 
of all other kinds of venomous animals, the Scytale in 
particular, adders, the sea hare, and the bramble frog. 
The ashes of them, preserved, are good for persons who 
give symptoms of hydrophobia after being bitten by a 
mad dog, some adding gentian as well, and administering 
the mixture in wine. In cases, too, where hydrophobia 
has already appeared, it is recommended, that these 
ashes should be kneaded up into boluses with wine and 
swallowed. If ten of these crabs be tied together with 
a handful of Ocimum, all the scorpions in the neighbour- 
hood, the magicians say, will be attracted to the spot. 
They recommend, also, that to wounds inflicted by the 
scorpion, these crabs, or the ashes of them, should be 
applied with Ocimum. For all these purposes, however, 
sea crabs, it should be remembered, are not so useful. 
Thrasyllus informs us that there is nothing so antago- 
nistic to serpents as crabs : that swine, when stung by 
a serpent, cure themselves by eating them ; and that, 



268 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

when the sun is in the sign of Cancer, serpents suffer 
the greatest tortures. . . . 

" It is said that while the sun is passing through the 
sign of Cancer, the dead bodies of the crabs, which are 
lying on the shore, are transformed into serpents." 

THE SEA-SERPENT. 

Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there 
can be no doubt, for it is represented on the walls of 
the Assyrian palace at Khorsabad, more than once, in 
the sculpture representing the voyage of Sargon to 




Cyprus, thus giving it an authentic antiquity of over 
2600 years : but as its existence must then have been 
a matter of belief, it naturally comes that it must be 
much older than that. 

Aristotle, who wrote nearly 400 years later, speaks 
of them, and their savage disposition : " In Libya, the 
serpents, as it has been already remarked, are very large. 
For some persons say that as they sailed along the coast, 
they saw the bones of many oxen, and that it was evident 
to them that they had been devoured by the serpents. 
And, as the ships passed on, the serpents attacked the 
triremes, and some of them threw themselves upon one of 
the triremes, and overturned it." 

These, together with Sargon's Sea-Serpent, were doubt- 
less marine snakes, which are still in existence, and are 
found in the Indian Ocean, but the larger ones seem to 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 269 

have been seen in more northern waters. It has been 
the fashion to pooh-pooh the existence of this sea mon- 
ster, but there are many that still do believe in it most 
thoroughly ; only, to express that belief would be to 
certainly expose oneself to ridicule. No one doubts the 
bond fides of those who narrate having seen them, but 
some one is sure to come forward with his pet theory 
as to its being a school of porpoises, or an enormous 
cuttle-fish, with its tentacles playing on the surface 
of the water ; so that no one likes to confess that he 
has seen it. 

Both Olaus Magnus and Gesner give illustrations of 
the Sea-Serpent of Norway, and I give that of the 
latter, as it is the best. The former says : " They who 




Work of Navigation, on the Coasts of Norway, employ 
themselves in fishing, or merchandize, do all agree in 
this strange Story, that there is a Serpent there which 
is of a Vast Magnitude, namely 200 feet long, and, 
moreover, 20 foot thick ; and is wont to live in Rocks 
and Caves toward the Sea Coast about Berge ; which 
will go alone from his holes in a clear night in Summer, 
and devour Calves, Lambs, and Hogs, or else he goes 
into the Sea to feed on Polypus, Locusts, and all sorts 



270 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

of Sea Crabs. He hath commonly hair hanging from 
his neck a cubit long, and sharp Scales, and is black, 
and he hath flaming shining eys. This Snake disquiets 
the Shippers, and he puts up his head on high like 
a pillar, and catcheth away men, and he devours them ; 
and this hapneth not, but it signifies some wonderful 
change of the Kingdom near at hand ; namely, that the 
Princes shall die, or be banished ; or some Tumultuous 
Wars shall presently follow. There is also another 
Serpent of an incredible magnitude in a town called 
Moos, of the Diocess of Hammer ; which, as a Comet 
portends a change in all the World, so, that portends 
a change in the Kingdom of Norway, as it was seen, 
Anno 1522, that lifts himself high above the Waters, and 
rouls himself round like a sphere. This Serpent was 
thought to be fifty Cubits long by conjecture, by sight 
afar off : there followed this the banishment of King 
Chrtstiemus, and a great persecution of the Bishops ; and 
it shew'd also the destruction of the Country." 

Topsell, in his Historic of Serpents, 1608, does not 
add much to Sea-Serpent lore, but he adds the picture 
of another kind of Serpent, as does also Aldrovandus, 
whose illustration I give. (See p. 272.) Erik Pontop- 
pidan, Bishop of Bergen, in his Naturlichen Historic von 
Norwegen, gives a picture of the Sea-Serpent, somewhat 
similar to that previously given by Hans Egede, " the 
Apostle of Greenland." (See next page.) Pontoppidan 
tried to sift the wheat from the chaff, in connection with 
the Natural History of the North, but he was not always 
successful. He gives several cases, one seemingly very 
well authenticated, of the appearance of Sea-Serpents. 

But possibly more credence may be given to more 
modern instances. Sir Walter Scott, in the Notes to The 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



271 



Pirate, says (speaking of Shetland and Orkney fisher- 
men) : " The Sea-Snake was also known, which, arising 
out of the depths of the ocean, stretches to the skies 
his enormous neck, covered with a mane like that of a 
war-horse, and with his broad glittering eyes, raised 
mast-head high, looks out, as it seems, for plunder or 
for victims." " The author knew a mariner, of some 
reputation in his class, vouch for having seen the 
celebrated Sea-Serpent. It appeared, as far as could 




be guessed, to be about a hundred feet long, with the 
wild mane and fiery eyes which old writers ascribe to 
the monster ; but it is not unlikely the spectator might, 
in the doubtful light, be deceived by a good Norway 
log on the water." 

Mr. Maclean, the pastor of Eigg, an island in the 
Small Isles parish, Inverness-shire, wrote, in 1809, to Dr. 
Neill, the Secretary of the Wernerian Society, that he 
had seen a Sea-Serpent, while he was in a boat about 



27 2 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

two miles from land. The serpent followed the boat, 
and the minister escaped by getting on to a rock. He 




described it as having a large head and slender tail, 
with no fins, its body tapering to its tail. It moved in 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 273 

undulations, and he thought its length might be seventy 
to eighty feet. It was seen, also, by the crews of 
thirteen fishing-boats, who, being frightened thereat, 
fled to the nearest creek for safety. 

A Sea-Serpent, judged to be of the length of about 
eighty feet, was seen by a party of British officers, in 
Margaret's Bay, whilst crossing from Halifax to Mahone 
Bay, on I5th May 1833. 

In 1847 a Sea-Serpent was seen frequently, in the 
neighbourhood of Christiansand and Molde, by many 
persons, and by one Lars Johnoen, fisherman at Smolen, 
especially. He said that one afternoon, in the dog- 
days, when sitting in his boat, he saw it twice in the 
course of two hours, and .quite close to him. It came, 
indeed, to within six feet of him, and, becoming alarmed, 
he commended his soul to God, and lay down in the 
boat, only holding his head high enough to enable him 
to observe the monster. It passed him, disappeared, 
and returned ; but a breeze springing up, it sank, and 
he saw it no more. He described it as being about six 
fathoms (thirty-six feet} long, the body (which was as 
round as .a serpent's) two feet across, the head as long 
as a ten-gallon cask, the eyes round, red, sparkling, and 
about five inches in diameter ; close behind the head, 
a mane, like a fin, commenced along the neck, and spread 
itself out on both sides, right and left, when swimming. 
The mane, as well as the head, was of the colour of 
mahogany. The body was quite smooth, its movements 
occasionally fast and slow. It was serpent-like, and 
moved up and down. The few undulations which those 
parts of the body and tail that were out of water made, 
were scarce a fathom in length. His account was con- 
firmed by several people of position, a Surgeon, a 



274 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Rector, and a Curate, being among those who had seen 
a Sea-Serpent. 

But an appearance of the Sea-Serpent, without doubt, 
is most satisfactorily attested by the captain and officers 
of H.M.S. Dadalus. The first notice of it was in the 
Times of loth October 1848, in which was a paragraph, 
dated 7th October, from Plymouth : 

"When the Dcedalus frigate, Captain M'Quhae, which 
arrived here on the 4th inst., was on her passage home 
from the East Indies, between the Cape of Good Hope 
and St. Helena, her captain, and most of her officers and 
crew, at four o'clock one afternoon, saw a Sea- Serpent. 
The creature was twenty minutes in sight of the frigate, 
and passed under her quarter. Its head appeared about 
four feet out of the water, and there was about sixty 
feet of its body in a straight line on the surface. It is 
calculated that there must have been under water a length 
of thirty or forty feet more, by which it propelled itself 
at the rate of fifteen miles an hour. The diameter of 
the exposed part of the body was about sixteen inches ; 
and when it extended its jaws, which were full of large 
jagged teeth, they seemed sufficiently capacious to admit 
of a tall man standing upright between them. The ship 
was sailing north at the rate of eight miles an hour. 
The Dcedalus left the Cape of Good Hope on the soth of 
July, and reached St. Helena on the i6th of August." 

Captain M'Quhae sent the following letter to Admiral 
Sir W. H. Gage, G.C.H., at Devonport : 

"HER MAJESTY'S SHIP D&DALUS, HAMOAZE, 
Oct. u, 1848. 

" SIR, In reply to your letter of this day's date, requir- 
ing information as to the truth of a statement published 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



275 



in the Times newspaper, of a Sea-Serpent of extraor- 
dinary dimensions having been' seen from 
Her Majesty's Ship Daedalus, under my 
command, on her passage from the East 
Indies, I have the honour to acquaint you, 
for the information of my Lords Com- 
missioners of the Admiralty, that at five 
o'clock P.M., on the 6th of August last, in 
latitude 24 44' S. and longitude 9 22' E., 
the weather dark and cloudy, wind fresh 
from the N.W., with a long ocean swell 
from the S.W., the ship on the port tack 
heading N.E. by N., something very 
unusual was seen by Mr. Sartoris, mid- 
shipman, rapidly approaching the ship 
from before the beam. The circumstance 
was immediately reported by him to the 
officer of the watch, Lieutenant Edgar 
Drummond, with whom, and Mr. William 
Barrett, the master, I was at the time 
walking the quarter-deck. The ship's 
company were at supper. 

" On our attention being called to the 
object, it was discovered to be an enor- 
mous Serpent, with head and shoulders 
kept about four feet constantly above the 
surface of the sea ; and, as nearly as we 
could approximate by comparing it with 
the length of what our maintopsail-yard 
would show in the water, there was, at 
the very least, sixty feet of the animal a 
fleur d'eau, no portion of which was, to 
our perception, used in propelling it through the water, 



276 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

either by vertical or horizontal undulation. It passed 
rapidly, but so close under our lee quarter that, had it been 
a man of my acquaintance, I should have easily recognised 
his features with the naked eye ; and it did not, either in 
approaching the ship or after it had passed our wake, 
deviate in the slightest degree from its course to the S. W., 
which it held on at the pace of from twelve to fifteen 
miles per hour, apparently on some determined purpose. 

" The diameter of the Serpent was about fifteen or 
sixteen inches behind the head, which was, without any 
doubt, that of a snake ; and it was never, during the 
twenty minutes that it continued in sight of our glasses, 
once below the surface of the water. Its colour, a dark 
brown, with yellowish white about the throat. It had 
no fins, but something like the mane of a horse, or 
rather a bunch of seaweed, washed about its back. It 
was seen by the quartermaster, the boatswain's mate, 
and the man at the wheel, in addition to myself and 
officers above mentioned. 

" I am having a drawing of the Serpent made from 
a sketch taken immediately after it was seen, which I 
hope to have ready for transmission to my Lords Com- 
missioners of the Admiralty by to-morrow's post. I 
have, &c., PETER M'QuH^E, CAPTAIN." 

Space will not allow me to chronicle all the other 
appearances of Sea-Serpents from 1848 to the present 
time. Suffice it to say, they are not very uncommon, 
and as for veracity, I will give another instance of its 
being seen on board the Royal Yacht Osborne, on 2nd June 
1877, off Cape Vito, Sicily. Lieutenant Haynes made 
sketches, and wrote a description, of it, which was con- 
firmed by the Captain and several officers. He wrote : 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 277 

" ROYAL YACHT OSSORNE, GIBRALTAR, 
June 6, 1877. 

" On the evening of that day (June 2), the sea being 
perfectly smooth, my attention was first called by seeing 
a ridge of fins above the surface of the water extending 
about thirty feet, and varying from five to six feet in 
height. On inspecting it by means of a telescope, at 
about one and a half cable's distance, I distinctly saw a 
head, two flappers, and about thirty feet of an animal's 
shoulder. 

" The head, as nearly as I could judge, was about six 
feet thick, the neck narrower, about four or five feet, 
the shoulder about fifteen feet across, and the flappers 
each about fifteen feet in length. The movements of 
the flappers were those of a turtle, and the animal re- 
sembled a huge seal, the resemblance being strongest 
about the back of the head. I could not see the length 
of the head, but from its crown or top to just below 
the shoulder (where it became immersed) I should reckon 
about fifty feet. The tail end I did not see, being under 
water, unless the ridge of fins to which my atten- 
tion was first attracted, and which had disappeared by 
the time I got a telescope, were really the continuation 
of the shoulder to the end of the object's body. The 
animal's head was not always above water, but was 
thrown upwards, remaining above for a few seconds at 
a time, and then disappearing. There was an entire 
absence of ' blowing ' or ' spouting.' " 

I think the verdict may be given that its existence, 
although belonging to "Curious Zoology," is not impos- 
sible, and can hardly be branded as a falsehood. 



278 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

SERPENTS. 

Of Serpents Topsell has written a " Historic," which, 
if not altogether veracious, is very amusing ; and I shall 
quote largely from it, as it shows us " the latest thing 
out " in Serpents as believed in, and taught, in the time 
of James I. He begins, of course, with their creation, 
and the Biblical mention of them, and then passes to the 
power of man over them in charming and taming them. 
Of the former he tells the following tale : 

" Aloisius Cadamustus, in his description of the New 
World, telleth an excellent hystorie of a Lygurian young 
Man, beeing among the Negroes travailing in Affrick, 
whereby he endeavoureth to proove, how ordinary and 
familiar it is to them, to take and charme Serpents. 

"The j'oung man beeing in Affricke among the Negroes, 
and lodged in the house of a Nephew to the Prince of 
Budonicll, when he was taking himselfe to his rest, sud- 
denly awakened by hearing the unwonted noise of the 
hissing of innumerable sorts of Serpents; wherat he 
wondred, and beeing in some terror, he heard his Host 
(the Prince's Nephew) to make himselfe readie to go out 
of the doores, (for he had called up his servants to sadle 
up his Cammels :) the young man demaunded of him the 
cause, why he would go out of doores now so late in 
the darke night ? to whom he answered, I am to goe a 
little way, but I will returne againe verie speedily ; and 
so he went, and with a charme quieted the Serpents, 
and drove them all away, returning againe with greater 
speed than the Lygurian young man, his ghest, expected. 
And when he had returned, he asked his ghest if hee 
did not heare the inmoderate hyssing of the Serpents ? 
and he answered, that he had heard them to his great 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 279 

terrour. Then the Prince's Nephew (who was called 
Bisboror) replyed, saying, they were Serpents which 
had beset the house, and would have destroyed all their 
Cattell and Heards, except hee had gone foorth to drive 
them away by a Charme, which was very common and 
ordinary in those parts, wherin were abundance of very 
hurtfull Serpents. 

" The Lygurian young man, hearing him say so, 
marvailed above measure, and said, that this thing was 
so rare and miraculous, that scarcely Christians could 
beleeve it. The Negro thought it as strange that the 
young man should bee ignorant heereof, and therefore told 
him, that their Prince could worke more strange things 
by a Charme which he had, and that this, and such 
like, were small, vulgar, and not be counted miraculous. 
For, when he is to use any strong poyson upon present 
necessitie, to put any man to death, he putteth some 
venom uppon a sword, or other peece of Armour, and 
then making a large round Circle, by his Charme com- 
pelleth many Serpents to come within that circle, hee 
himselfe standing amongst them, and observing the 
most venomous of them all so assembled, which he 
thinketh to contain the strongest poyson, killeth him, 
and causeth the residue to depart away presentlie ; then, 
out of the dead Serpent hee taketh the poyson, and 
mixeth it with the seede of a certaine vulgar Tree, and 
therewithall annoynteth his dart, arrow, or sword's 
point, whereby is caused present death, if it give the 
bodie of a man but a very small wound, even to the 
breaking of the skinne, or drawing of the blood. And 
the saide Negro did earnestly perswade the young man 
to see an experiment hereof, promising him to shew all 
as he had related, but the Lygurian beeing more willing 



280 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

to heare such things told, than bolde to attempt the 
trial], told him that he was not willing to see any such 
experiment. 

" And by this it appeareth, that all the Negroes are 
addicted to Incantations, which never have anie ap- 
probation from God, except against Serpents, which I 
cannot very easilie be brought to beleeve." 

Of the affection of some serpents for the human-kind 
he gives some examples : " We reade also in Plutarch 
of certain Serpents, lovers of young virgins, and by 
name there was one that was in love with one JEtolta, 
a Virgin, who did accustome to come unto her in the 
night time, slyding gentlie all over her bodie, never 
harming her, but as one glad of such acquaintance, 
tarried with her in that dalliance till the morning, and 
them would depart away of his owne accorde : the 
which thing beeing made manifest unto the Guardians 
and Tutours of the Virgin, they removed her unto 
another Towne. The Serpent missing his Love, sought 
her uppe and downe three or four dayes, and at last 
mette her by chance, and then hee saluted her not as he 
was wont, with fawning, and gentle slyding, but fiercely 
assaulted her with grimme and austere countenance, 
flying to her hands, and binding them with the spire 
of his bodie, fast to her sides, did softly with his tayle 
beat her upon her backer parts. Whereby was collected, 
some token of his chastisement unto her, who had 
wronged such a Lover, with her wilfull absence and 
disappointment. 

"It is also reported by JElianus that Egetnon in his 
verses, writeth of one Alcna, a Thcssalian who, feeding 
his Oxen in Thessaly, neere the Fountaine Hcemonius, 
there fell in love with him a Serpent of exceeding big- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 281 

nesse and quantitie, and the same would come unto 
him, and softly licke his face and golden haire, without 
dooing him any manner of hurt at all." 

He tells a few more " Snake stories," and quotes 
from "a little Latine booke printed at Vienna, in the 
yeare of the Lorde 1551," the following: "There was 
(sayth mine Author) found in a mowe or rycke of come, 
almost as many Snakes, Adders, and other Serpentes, 
as there were sheafes, so as no one sheafe could be 
removed, but there presently appeared a heape of ougly 
and fierce Serpents. The countrey men determined to 
set fire upon the Barne, and so attempted to doe, but in 
vaine, for the straw would take no fire, although they 
laboured with all their wit and pollicye, to burne them 
up ; At last, there appeared unto them at the top of the 
heap a huge great Serpent, which, lifting up his head, 
spake with man's voyce to the countrey men, saying : 
Cease to prosecute your devise, for you shall not be able to 
accomplish our burning, for wee were not bredde by Nature, 
neither came we hither of our own accord, but were sent by 
God to take vengeance on the sinnes of men." 

And some serpents were " very fine and large," for he 
says : " Gellius writeth, that when the Romanes were in 
the Carthaginian Warre, and Attilius Regulus the Consull 
had pitched his Tents neere unto the river Bragrada, 
there was a Serpent of monstrous quantitie, which had 
beene lodged within the compasse of the Tents, and 
therefore did cause to the whole Armie exceeding great 
calamitie, untill by casting of stones with slings, and 
many other devises, they oppressed and slew that Ser- 
pent, and afterward fleyed off the skinne and sent it 
to Rome ; which was in length one hundred and twentie 
feete. 



282 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

"And, although this seemeth to be a beast of unmatch- 
able stature, yet Postdenius a Christian writer, relateth a 
storie of another which was much greater, for hee writeth 
that he saw a Serpent dead, of the length of an acre of 
Land, and all the residue both of head and bodie, were 
answerable in proportion, for the bulke of his bodie was 
so great, and lay so high, that two Horsemen could not 
see one the other, beeing at his two sides, and the wide- 
nes of his mouth was so great, that he could receive 
at one time, within the compasse thereof, a horse and a 
man on his backe both together : The scales of his coate 
or skinne, being every one like a large buckler or target. 
So that now, there is no such cause to wonder at the 
Serpent which is said to be killed by St. George, which 
was, as is reported, so great, that eight Oxen were 
but strength enough to drawe him out of the Cittie 
Si laia. . . . 

11 Among the Scyritcv, the Serpents come by great 
swarmes uppon their flocks of sheepe and cattell, and 
some they eate up all, others they kill, and sucke out 
the blood, and some part they carry away. But if ever 
there were anything beyond credite, it is the relation of 
Volateran in his twelfth booke of the New-found Lands, 
wherein he writeth, that there are Serpents of a mile 
long, which at one certaine time of the yeere come 
abroad out of the holes and dennes of habitation, and 
destroy both the Heards and Heard-men if they find 
them. Much more favourable are the Serpents of a 
Spanish Island, who doe no harme to any living thing, 
although they have huge bodies, and great strength to 
accomplish their desires." 

After this it will be refreshing to have one of Topsell's 
own particular true stories : and this is " Of a true history 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 283 

done in England, in the house of a worshipfull Gentleman, 
upon a servant of his, whom I could name if it were 
needfull. He had a servant that grew very lame and 
feeble in his legges, and thinking that he could never 
be warme in his bed, did multiply his clothes, and 
covered himselfe more and more, but all in vaine, till 
at length he was not able to goe about, neither could 
any skill of Phisitian or Surgeon find out the cause. 

"It hapned on a day as his Maister leaned at his 
Parlour window, he saw a great Snake to slide along 
the house side, and to creepe into the chamber of this 
lame man, then lying in his bedde, (as I remember,) for 
hee lay in a lowe chamber, directly against the Parlour 
window aforesaid. The Gentleman desirous to see the 
issue, and what the Snake would doe in the chamber, 
followed, and looked into the chamber by the window ; 
where hee espied the snake to slide uppe into the bed- 
straw, by some way open in the bottome of the bedde, 
which was of old bordes. Straightway, his hart rising 
thereat, he called two or three of his servaunts, and told 
them what he had scene, bidding them goe take their 
Rapiers, and kill the said snake. The serving-men came 
first, and removed the lame man (as I remember) and 
then the one of them turned up the bed, and the other 
two the straw, their Maister standing without, at the 
hole, whereinto the said snake had entered into the 
chamber. The bedde was no sooner turned up, and 
the Rapier thrust into the straw, but there issued forth 
five or six great snakes that were lodged therein : Then 
the serving-men bestirring themselves, soone dispatched 
them, and cast them out of doores dead. Afterward, 
the lame man's legges recovered, and became as strong 
as ever they were ; whereby did evidentlie appeare, the 



284 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

coldnes of these snakes or Serpents, which came close 
to his legges everie night, did so benumme them, as he 
could not goe." 

Yet one more : 

" I cannot conceale a most memorable historic as ever 
was any in the world, of a fight betwixt the Serpents 
of the Land and the Water. This history is taken out 
of a Booke of Schilt-bergerus, a Bavarian, who knew the 
same, (as he writeth) while hee was a captive in Turky; 
his words are these. In the kingdome called Genyke, 
there is a Citty called Sampson, about which, while I was 
prisoner with Baiazeta King of Turkes, there pitched or 
arrived, an innumerable company of Land and Water 
Serpents, compassing the said Cittie, a mile about. The 
Land Serpents came out of the woods of Trienick, which 
are great and many, and the Water Serpents came out 
of the bordering Sea. These were nine dayes together 
assembling in that place, and for feare of them there was 
not any man that durst goe out of the Citty, although 
it was not observed that they hurt any man, or living 
creature there-abouts. 

" Wherefore the Prince also commanded, that no man 
should trouble them, or doe them any harme, wisely 
judging, that such an accident came not but by Divine 
Miracle, and that also to signifie some notable event. 
Uppon the tenth day, these two valiant troupes joyned 
battell, early in the morning, before the sunne-rising, 
so continuing in fight untill the sunne-set, at which time 
the Prince, with some horsemen, went out of the Cittie 
to see the battell, and it appeared to him and his 
associates, that the Water Serpents gave place to the 
Land Serpents. So the Prince, and his company, re- 
turned into the Citty againe, and the next day went 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 285 

forth againe, but found not a Serpent alive, for there 
were slaine above eyght thousand : all which, he caused 
presently to be covered with earth in ditches, and 
afterwards declared the whole matter to Baiazeta by 
letters, after he had gotten that Cittie, whereat the great 
Turke rejoyced, for hee thereby interpreted happinesse 
to himselfe." 

Luckily, man has found out things inimical to Serpents, 
and they, and their use, seem to be very simple : 

" There is such vertue in the Ashe tree, that no Ser- 
pent will endure to come neere either the morning or 
evening shadow of it ; yea, though very farre distant 
from them, they do so deadlie hate it. We set downe 
nothing but that wee have found true by experience : 
If a great fire be made, and the same fire encircled 
round with Ashen-boughes, and a serpent put betwixt 
the fire and the Ashen-boughes, the Serpent will sooner 
runne into the fire, than come neere the Ashen-boughes : 
thus saith Pliny. Olaus Magnus saith, that those Nor- 
thern Countries which have great store of Ash-trees, 
doe want venemous beasts, of which opinion is also 
Pliny. Callimachus saith, there is a Tree growing in 
the Land of Trackinia, called Smt'lo, to which, if any 
Serpents doe either come neere, or touch, they foorth- 
with die. Democritus is of opinion, that any Serpent 
will die if you cast Oken-leaves upon him. Pliny is of 
opinion that Alcibiadum, which is a kind of wild Buglosse, 
is of the same use and qualitie ; and further, being 
chewed, if it be spet upon any serpent, that it cannot 
possibly live. In time of those solemne Feastes which 
the Athenians dedicated to the Goddesse Ceres, their 
women did use to lay and strew their beddes, with the 
leaves of the Plant called Agnos, because serpents could 



286 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

not endure it, and because they imagined it kept them 
chast, Where-upon they thought the name was given it. 
The herbe called Rosemarie, is terrible to serpents. 

" The Egyptians doe give it out, that Polydamna the 
wife of Thorns their King, taking pittie upon Helen, 
caused her to be set on shore in the Island of Pharus, 
and bestowed upon her an herbe (whereof there was 
plenty) that was a great enemy to serpents : whereof 
the serpents having a feeling sence (as they say) and so 
readily knowne of them, they straightwaies got them to 
their lurking holes in the earth ; and Helen planted this 
herbe, who, coming to the knowledge thereof, she per- 
ceived that in his due time it bore a seede that was 
a great enemy to serpents, and thereupon was called 
Helenium, as they that are skilfull in Plants affirme ; 
and it groweth plentifully in Pharus, which is a little 
He against the mouth of Nylus, joyned to Alexandria 
by a bridge. 

" Rue, (called of some, Herbe of Grace) especially that 
which groweth in Lybia, is but a backe friend to Serpents, 
for it is most dry, and therefore causing Serpents soon 
to faint, and loose their courage, because (as Simocatus 
affirmeth) it induceth a kind of heavinesse or drunken- 
nesse in their head, with a vertiginie, or giddines 
through the excesse of his drinesse, or immoderate 
sticcitie. Serpents cannot endure the savour of Rue, 
and, therefore, a Wesill, when she is to fight with 
any serpent, eateth Rue, as a defensative against her 
enemie, as Aristotle, and Pliny his Interpreter, are of 
opinion. 

" The Country people leaving their vessels of Milke 
abroade in the open fieldes, doe besmeare them round 
about with garlick, lest some venomous serpents should 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 287 

creepe into them, but the smell of garlick, as Erasmus 
saith, driveth them away. No serpents were ever yet 
scene to touch the herbe Trifolie, or Three-leaved-grasse, 
as jEdonnus wold make us believe. And Cardan the 
Phisitian hath observed as much, that serpents, nor any- 
thing that is venemous will neither lodge, dwell, or lurk 
privily neere unto Trifolie, because that is their bane, 
as they are to other living creatures: and therefore 
it is sowne to very good purpose, and planted in very 
hot countries, where there is most store of such venom- 
ous creatures. 

" Arnoldus Villanonanus saith that the herb called 
Dracontea killeth serpents. And Florentinus affirmeth 
that, if you plant Woormwood, Mugwort, or Sothernwood 
about your dwelling, that no venomous serpents will 
ever come neer, or dare enterprise to invade the same. 
No serpent is found in Vines, when they flourish, bear- 
ing flowers or blossoms, for they abhor the smell, as 
Aristotle saith. Avicen, an Arabian Phisitian, saith, that 
Capers doe kill worms in the guts, and likewise serpents. 
If you make a round circle with herbe Betonie, and 
therein include any serpents, they will kill themselves 
in the place, rather than strive to get away. Galbanum 
killeth serpents only by touching, if oyle and the herbe 
called Fenell-giant be mixt withall. There is a shrubbe 
called Therionarca, having a flower like a Rose, which 
maketh serpents heavy, dull and drousie, and so killeth 
them, as Pliny affirmeth." 

There are more plants inimical to serpents, but 
enough have been given to enable the reader, if he have 
faith in them, to defend himself; and it is comforting to 
think, that although the serpent is especially noxious, when 
alive, he is marvellously useful, medicinally, when dead. 



288 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

Even now, in some country places, viper broth is used as 
a medicine ; and, in the first half of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, its flesh, prepared in various ways, was thoroughly 
recognised in the Pharmacopoeia. But Topsell, who 
gathered together all the wisdom of the ancients, gives 
so very many remedies (for all kinds of illnesses) that 
may be derived from different parts, and treatment, of 
serpents, that I can only pick out a few : 

" Pliny saith, that if you take out the right eye of 
a serpent, and so bind it about any part of you, that it 
is of great force against 'the watering or dropping of 
the eyes, by meanes of a rhume issuing out thereat, if 
the serpent be againe let goe alive. And so hee saith, 
that a serpent's or snake's hart, if either it be bitten or 
tyed to any part of you, that it is a present remedie for 
the toothach : and hee addeth further, that if any man 
doe tast of the snake's hart, that he shall never after 
be hurt of any serpent. . . . The blood of a serpent is 
more precious than Balsamum, and if you annoynt your 
lips with a little of it, they will looke passing redde : 
and, if the face be annoynted therewith, it will re- 
ceive no spot or fleck, but causeth it to have an orient 
and beautiful hue. It represseth all scabbiness of the 
body, stinking in the teeth, and gummes, if they be 
therewith annointed. The fat of a serpent speedily 
helpeth all rednes, spots, and other infirmities of the 
eyes, and beeing annoynted upon the eyeliddes, it 
cleereth the eyes exceedingly. 

" Item, put them (serpents) into a glassed pot, and fill 
the same with Butter in the Month of May, then lute 
it well with paste (that is, Meal well kneaded) so that 
nothing may evaporate, then sette the potte on the fire, 
and let it boyle wel-nigh halfe a day : after this is done, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 289 

straine the Butter through a cloth, and the remainder 
beate in a morter, and straine it againe, and mixe them 
together, then put them into water to coole, and so 
reserve it in silver or golden boxes, that which is not 
evaporated, for the older, the better it is, and so much 
the better it will be, if you can keepe it fortie years. 
Let the sicke patient, who is troubled eyther with the 
Goute, or the Palsie, but annoynt himselfe often against 
the fire with this unguent, and, without doubt, he shall 
be freed, especially if it be the Goute." 

Of serpents in general, I shall have little to say, 
except those few of which the descriptions are the most 
outre. And first let us have out the "Boas," which 
cannot mean that enormous serpent the Boa-Constrictor, 
which enfolds oxen, deer, &c., crushing their bones in its 
all-powerful fold, and which sometimes reaches the length 
of thirty or five-and-thirty feet long enough, in all 
conscience, for a respectable serpent. But Topsell begins 
his account of " The Boas " far more magnificently : 

" It was well knowne among all the Romans, that 
when Regulus was Governour, or Generall, in the Punick 
warres, there was a Serpent (neere the river Bagrade) 
killed with slings and stones, even as a Towne or little 
Cittie is over-come, which Serpent was an hundred and 
twenty foote in length ; whose skinne and cheeke bones, 
were reserved in a Temple at Rome, untill the Numantine 
warre. 

"And this History is more easie to be beleeved, be- 
cause of the Boas Serpent bred in Italy at this day : for 
we read in Solmus, that when Claudius was Emperour, 
there was one of them slaine in the Vatican at Rome, in 
whose belly was found an Infant swallowed whole, and 
not a bone thereof broken. . . . 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 291 

" The Latines call it Boa, and Bova, because by sucking 
Cowe's milke it so encreaseth, that in the end it destroyeth 
all manner of herdes, Cattell, and Regions. . . . The 
Italians doe usually call them, Serpeda de Aqua, a 
Serpent of the water, and, therefore, all the Learned 
expound the Greeke word Hydra, for a Boas. Cardan 
saith, that there are of this kind in the Kingdom of 
Senega, both without feet and wings, but most properly, 
as they are now found in Italy, according to these 
verses : 

Boa quidem serpens quern lellus Itala nutrit 
Hunc bubulum plures lac enutrire docent. 

Which may be englished thus : 

The Boas Serpent which Italy doth breede, 
Men say, itppon the milke of C owes dothfeede. 

" Their fashion is in seeking for their prey among the 
heardes, to destroy nothing that giveth suck, so long 
as it will live, but they reserve it alive untill the milk 
be dryed up, then afterwards they kill and eate it, and 
so they deale with whole flocks and heards." 

Whilst on the subject of Hydra, I give Topsell's idea 
of the Lernean Hydra, whose story is so familiar to us. 
(See p. 292.) But, after presenting us with such a frightful 
ideal, he says : " And some ignorant men of late daies at 
Venice, did picture this Hydra with wonderfull Art, and 
set it forth to the people to be scene, as though it had 
beene a true carkase, with this inscription : In the yeare 
of Christe's incarnation, 550, about the Month of January, 
' this monstrous Serpent was brought out of Turky to 
Venice, and afterwards given to the French King : It 
was esteemed to be worth 600 duckats. These monsters 



2 9 2 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



signifie the mutation or change of worldly affaires/ &c." 
And, after giving a long-winded inscription, apropos of 
nothing, he says : " I have also heard that in Venice in 




the Duke's treasury, among the rare Monuments of that 
Citty, there is preserved a Serpent with seaven heads, 
which, if it be true, it is the 
more probable that there is 
a Hydra, and that the Poets 
were not altogether deceived, 
that say Hercules killed such 
an one." 

Mr. Henry Lee, in his 
little book, "Sea Fables 
Explained," says that the 
Lernean Hydra was neither 
more nor less than a huge Octopus, and gives an illus- 
tration of a marble tablet in the Vatican (also given in 




CURIOUS CREATURES. 



293 



" Smith's Classical Dictionary "), which does not seem 
unlike one. 

The Wingless Dragons belong to the serpent tribe, 
with the exception that they are generally furnished with 
legs. These are " Wormes," of several of which we, in 
England, were the happy possessors. Of course, in the 
northern parts of Europe, they survived (in story at 
all events) much later than with us, and Olaus Magnus 
gives accounts of several fights with them, notably that 
of Frotho and Fridlevus, two Champions, against a 
serpent. 

" Frotho, a Danish Champion and a King, scarce being 
past his childhood, in a single combat killed a huge 
fierce great Serpent, thrusting his sword into his belly, 
for his hard skin would not be wounded, and all darts 




thrown at him, flew back again, and it was but labour 
lost. Fridlevus was no lesse valiant, who, both to try 
his valour, and to find out some hidden treasure, set 
upon a most formidable Serpent for his huge body and 
venomous teeth, and, for a long time, he cast his darts 



294 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

against his scaly sides, and could not hurt him, for 
his hard body made nothing of the weapons cast with 
violence against him. But this Serpent twisting his 
tail in many twines, by turning his tail round, he would 
pull up trees by the roots, and by his crawling on the 
ground, he had made a great hollow place, that in some 
places, hills seemed to be parted as if a valley were 
between them, wherefore Fridkvus considering that the 
upper parts of this beast could not be penetrated, he 
runs him in with his sword underneath ; and, piercing 
into his groine, he drew forth his virulent matter, as he 
lay panting : when he had killed the Serpent, he dug 
up the money, and carried it away." 

He gives another story of a combat with " Wormcs," 
although in the Latin they are called Vipers : yet I leave 
my readers to judge whether the small snake, the viper, 
would require such an amount of killing as Regner had 
to bestow upon them : 

" Of Regnerus, called Hair-Coat. There was a King 
of the Sueons called Herothus, whose troubled mind 
was not a little urged how to preserve his Daughter's 
chastity ; whether he should guard her with wild beasts 
(as the manner of most Princes was then) or else should 
commit the custody of her to man's fidelity. But he, 
preferring cruelty of Beasts to man's fidelity, he soonest 
chose what would do most hurt. For, hunting in the 
woods, he brought some Snakes that his Company had 
found, for his Daughter to feed up. She, quickly obeying 
her Father's commands, bred up a generation of vipers 
by her Virgin hands. And that they might want no 
meat, her curious Father caused the whole body of an 
Ox to be brought, being ignorant that, by this private 
food, he maintain'd a publick destruction. These, being 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 295 

grown up, by their venomous breath poysoned the 
neighbouring parts ; but the King, repenting his folly, 
proclaimed that he who could remove this plague, should 
have his daughter. 

" When Regnerus of Norway, descended of the King's 
race, who was the chief Suiter this Virgin had, heard 
this Report, he obtained from the Nurse a woollen 
Cassock, and hairy Breeches, whereby he might hinder 
the biting of the Adders. And when he came to Sweden 
in a ship, he purposely suffered his Clothes to grow stiff 
with cold, casting water upon them : and thus clothed, 
having onely his Sword and Dart to defend him, he 
went to the King. As he went forward, two huge 
Adders met him on the way, that would kill the young 
man, with the twisting of their tails, and by the venome 
they cast forth. 

" But Regnerus confiding in the hardness of his frozen 
Garments, both endured and repulsed their Venome, by 
his clothes, and their biting his Harness, being indefati- 
gable in pressing hard upon these Wild Beasts. Last 
of all he strongly casts out of his hand his Javelin that 
was fastened with a Hoop, and struck it into their bodies. 
Then, with his two-edged Sword, rending both their 
hearts, he obtained a happy end of an ingenious and 
dangerous fight. The King, looking curiously on his 
clothes, when he saw them so hairy on the back-side, 
and unpolished like ragged Frize, he spake merrily, and 
called him Lodbrock : that is Hair Coat ; and to recreate 
him after his pains, he sent for him to a Banquet with 
his friends. He answered, That he must first go see 
those Companions he had left : and he brought them to 
the King's Table, very brave in clothes, as he was then : 
and lastly, when that was done, he received the pledge 



296 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

of his Victory, by whom he begat many hopeful Chil- 
dren : and he had her true love to him the more, and 
the rather enjoyed his company, by how much she knew 
the great dangers he underwent to win her by, and the 
ingenious practises he used." 

We were favoured in England with several " Wormes." 
Nor only in England, but in Scotland and Wales. Of 
course, Ireland can boast of none, as St. Patrick banished 
all the serpents from that island. 

Of the Dragon of Wantley I say nothing ; he has 
been reslain in modern times, and all the romance has 
gone out of him. Nobody wishes to know that the 
Dragon was Sir Francis Wortley, who was at logger- 
heads with his neighbours, notably one Lionel Rowle- 
stone, whose advocate was More of More Hall. We 
had rather have had our dear old Dragon, and have let 
the champion More slay him in the orthodox manner. 

But the "laidley Worme" of Lambton is still all 
our own, and its story is thus told by Surtees in his 
"History, &c., of Durham," 1820: 

" The heir of Lambton, fishing, as was his profane 
custom, in the Wear, on a Sunday, hooked a small worm 
or eft, which he carelessly threw into a well, and thought 
no more of the adventure. The worm (at first neglected) 
grew till it was too large for its first habitation, and, 
issuing forth from the Worm Well, betook itself to the 
Wear, where it usually lay a part of the day coiled 
round a crag in the middle of the water ; it also fre- 
quented a green mound near the well (the Worm Hill), 
where it lapped itself nine times round, leaving vermicu- 
lar traces, of which, grave living witnesses depose that 
they have seen the vestiges. It now became the terror 
of the country, and, amongst other enormities, levied a 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 297 

daily contribution of nine cows' milk, which was always 
placed for it at the green hill, and in default of which it 
devoured man and beast. Young Lambton had, it seems, 
meanwhile, totally repented him of his former life and 
conversation, had bathed himself in a bath of holy water, 
taken the sign of the cross, and joined the Crusaders. 

" On his return home, he was extremely shocked at 
witnessing the effects of his youthful imprudences, and 
immediately undertook the adventure. After several 
fierce combats, in which the Crusader was foiled by his 
enemy's power of self -union, he found it expedient to add 
policy to courage, and not, perhaps, possessing much of 
the former quality, he went to consult a witch or wise 
woman. By her judicious advice he armed himself in 
a coat-of-mail studded with razor blades ; and, thus 
prepared, placed himself on the crag in the river, and 
awaited the monster's arrival. 

" At the usual time the worm came to the rock, and 
wound himself with great fury round the armed knight, 
who had the satisfaction to see his enemy cut in pieces 
by his own efforts, whilst the stream washing away the 
severed parts, prevented the possibility of reunion. 

" There is still a sequel to the story : the witch had 
promised Lambton success only on one condition, that 
he should slay the first living thing which met his sight 
after the victory. To avoid the possibility of human 
slaughter, Lambton had directed his father, that as soon 
as he heard him sound three blasts on his bugle, in 
token of the achievement performed, he should release 
his favourite greyhound, which would immediately fly 
to the sound of the horn, and was destined to be the 
sacrifice. On hearing his son's bugle, however, the old 
chief was so overjoyed, that he forgot his instructions, 



298 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

and ran himself with open arms to meet his son. In- 
stead of committing a parricide, the conqueror again 
repaired to his adviser, who pronounced, as the alterna- 
tive of disobeying the original instructions, that no chief 
of the Lambtons should die in his bed for seven, (or as 
some accounts say) for nine generations a commutation 
which, to a martial spirit, had nothing probably very 
terrible, and which was willingly complied with. . . . 

" In the garden-house at Lambton are two figures of no 
great antiquity. A Knight in good style, armed cap-a-pie, 
the back studded with razor blades, who holds the worm 
by one ear with his left hand, and with his right crams 
his sword to the hilt down his throat ; and a Lady who 
wears a coronet, with bare breasts, &c., in the style of 
Charles 2nd's Beauties, a wound on whose bosom and 
an accidental mutilation of the hand are said to have 
been the work of the worm." 

There were several other English " Wormes, " but 
this must suffice as a type. Also, as a typical Scotch 
" Worme," the Linton Worme will serve. A writer 
(W. E.) tells its story so well in Notes and Queries, Feb- 
ruary 24, 1866, that I transfer it here, in preference to 
telling it myself. It was slain by Sir John Somerville, 
about the year 1174, who received the lands and barony 
of Linton, in Roxburghshire, as the reward of his exploit. 
W. E. quotes from a family history entitled a " Memorie 
of the Somervills," written by James, the eleventh lord, 
A.D. 1679 : 

" ' In the parochene of Lintoune, within the sheriffdome 
of Roxburghe, ther happened to breede ane hydeous 
monster, in the forme of a worme, soe called and 
esteemed by the country people (but in effecte has beene 
a serpente or some suche other creature), in length three 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 299 

Scots yards, and somewhat bigger than ane ordinarie 
man's leg, &c. . . . This creature, being a terrour to the 
country people, had its den in a hollow piece of ground, 
on the syde of a hill, south east from Lintoun Church, 
some more than a myle, which unto this day is knowne 
by the name of the Worme's glen, where it used to rest 
and shelter itself ; but, when it sought after prey, then 
would it wander a myle or two from its residence, and 
make prey of all sort of bestiall that came in its way, 
which it easily did because of its lownesse, creeping 
amongst the peat, heather, or grasse, wherein that place 
abounded much, by reasone of the meadow grounde, 
and a large flow moss, fit for the pasturage of many 
cattell. . . . Soe that the whole country men thereabout 
wer forced to remove ther bestiall and transport them 
3 or 4 myles from the place, leaving the country de- 
solate, neither durst any person goe to the Church, or 
mercat, upon that rod, for fear of this beast.' 

" Somerville happening to come to Jedburgh, on the 
King's business, found the inhabitants full of stories 
about the wonderful beast. 

" ' The people who had fled ther for shelter, told soe 
many lies, as first, that it increased every day, and was 
beginning to get wings : others pretended to have seen 
it in the night, and asserted it was full of fyre, and in 
tyme, would throw it out, &c., with a thousand other 
ridiculous stories.' 

" Somerville determined to see the monster, and, ac- 
cordingly, rode to the glen about sunrise, when he was 
told it generally came forth. He had not to wait long, 
till he perceived it crawl out of its den. When it ob- 
served him, it raised itself up, and stared at him, for 
some time, without venturing to approach ; whereupon 



300 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

he drew nearer to observe it more closely, on which it 
turned round, and slunk into its lair. 

" Satisfied that the beast was not so dangerous as 
reported, he resolved to destroy it, but as every one 
declared that neither sword nor dagger had any effect 
on it, and that its venom would destroy any one that 
came within its reach : he prepared a spear double the 
ordinary length, plated with iron, four feet from the 
point, on which he placed a slender iron wheel, turning 
on its centre. On this he fastened a lighted peat, and 
exercised his horse with it for several days, until it 
shewed no fear or dislike to the fire and smoke. He 
then repaired to the den, and, on the worme appearing, 
his servant set fire to the peat, and, putting spurs to his 
horse, he rode full at the beast. The speed at which he 
advanced, caused the wheel to spin round, and fanned 
the peat into a blaze. He drove the lance down the 
monster's throat full a third part of its length, when 
it broke, and he left the animal writhing in the agonies 
of death." 

I am afraid the Welsh " Worme " is not so well 
authenticated as the others ; but the story is, that 
Denbigh is so named from a Dragon slain by John 
Salusbury of Lleweni, who died 1289. It devastated 
the country far and wide, after the manner of its kind, 
and all the inhabitants prayed for the destruction of 
this bych. This the Champion effected, and in his glee, 
joyfully sang, Dyn bych, Dyn bych (No bych) ; and the 
country round was so named. 

There arises the question, whether, having regard 
to the fact that the Lambton worm, at all events, was 
amphibious, it might not have been a Plesiosaurus, 
which had survived some of its race, such as the illus- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 301 

tration now given, of the one reconstructed by Thos. 
Hawkins, in his " Book of the Great Sea Dragons." 
We know that at some time or other these animals 
existed, and, it may be, some few lingered on. At all 
events most civilised nations have had a belief in it, and 
it was held to be the type of all that was wicked ; so 
much so, that one of Satan's synonyms is " the Great 




Dragon." In the Romances of Chivalry, its destruction 
was always reserved for the worthiest knight ; in classical 
times it was a terror. Both Hindoos and Chinese hold it 
in firm faith, and, take it all in all, belief in its entity 
was general. 

The Winged Dragons were undoubtedly more furious 
and wicked than the Wormes, and there is scarcely any 



302 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

reason to go farther than its portrait by Aldrovandus, to 
enable us to recognise it at any time. (See next page.) 
Topsell gives another, but with scarcely so much detail. 

But, although we in our times have not seen flying 
dragons in the flesh, we have their fossilised bones in 
evidence of their existence. The Pterodactyl, as Mr. 
Hawkins observes, " agrees with the Dragon in nearly 
all its more important features. Thus, it was of great 
size, possessed a large head, with long jaws and power- 
ful teeth. It had wings of great span, and at the same 
time three powerful clawed fingers to each hand, wings 
devoid of feathers, and capable of being folded along the 
sides of the body, while the large size of the orbits may 
not, improbably, have suggested the name dragon ; for 
dragon, which is derived from the Greek SpaKwv, means, 
literally, keen-sighted" 

We now have flying lizards, both in India and the 
Malay Archipelago, in which latter is found a small 
lemur which can fly from tree to tree, and we are all 
familiar with bats, some of which attain a large size. 

Topsell has exercised great research among old 
authorities respecting dragons, and he draws their 
portraits thus : " Gyllius, Pt'erius, and Grevinus, follow- 
ing the authority of Nicander, do affirme that a Dragon is 
of a blacke colour, the bellie somewhat green, and very 
beautifull to behold, having a treble rowe of teeth in 
their mouthes upon every jawe, and with most bright 
and cleare seeing eyes, which caused the Poets to faine 
in their writings, that these dragons are the watchfull 
keepers of Treasures. They have also two dewlappes 
growing under their chinne, and hanging downe like a 
beard, which are of a redde colour; their bodies are 
set all over with very sharpe scales, and over their eyes 



304 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

stand certaine flexible eyeliddes. When they gape 
wide with their mouth, and thrust forth their tongue, 
theyr teeth seeme very much to resemble the teeth of 
Wilde Swine : And theyr neckes have many times 
grosse thicke hayre growing upon them, much like unto 
the bristles of a Wylde Boare." 

Apart from looks, he does not give dragons, as a rule, 
a very bad character, and says they do not attack men 
unless their general food fails them : " They greatlie 
preserve their health (as Aristotle affirmeth) by eating 
of Wild lettice, for that they make them to vomit, and 
cast foorth of theyr ' stomacke what soever meate of- 
fendeth them, and they are most speciallie offended by 
eating Apples, for theyr bodies are much subject to be 
filled with winde, and therefore they never eate Apples, 
but first they eate Wilde lettice. Theyr sight also (as 
Plutarch sayth) doth many times grow weake and feeble, 
and therefore they renew and recover the same againe 
by rubbing their eyes against Fennel, or else by eating 
it. Their age could never yet be certainely knowne, 
but it is conjectured that they live long, and in great 
health, like all other serpents, and therefore they grow 
so great. 

" Neither have wee in Europe onely heard of Dra- 
gons, and never scene them, but also even in our own 
Country, there have (by the testimonie of sundry writers) 
divers been discovered and killed. And first of all, 
there was a Dragon, or winged Serpent, brought unto 
Francis the French King, when hee lay at Sancton, by a 
certaine Country man, who had slaine the same Serpent 
himselfe with a Spade, when it sette upon him in the fields 
to kill him. And this thinge was witnessed by many 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 305 

Learned and Credible men which saw the same ; and 
they thought it was not bredde in that Country, but 
rather driven by the winde thither from some forraine 
Nation. For Fraunce was never knowne to breede 
any such Monsters. Among the Pyrenes, too, there is a 
cruell kinde of Serpent, not past foure foot long, and as 
thicke as a man's arme, out of whose sides growe winges, 
much like unto gristles. 

" Gesner also saith, that in the yeere of our Lord 1543 
there came many Serpents both with wings and legs 
into the parts of Germany neere Stiria, who did bite and 
wound many men incurably. Cardan also describeth 
certaine serpents with wings, which he saw at Paris, 
whose dead bodies were in the hands of Gulielmus 
Musicus ; hee saith that they had two legges, and small 
winges, so that they could scarce flie, the head was little, 
and like to the head of a serpent, their colour bright, and 
without haire or feathers, the quantitie of that which was 
greatest, did not exceede the bignes of a Cony, and it is 
saide they were brought out of India. . . . 

" There have beene also Dragons many times scene in 
Germaine, flying in the ayre at mid-day, and signifying 
great and fearefull fiers to follow, as it happened neere 
to the Cittie called Niderburge, neere to the shore of 
the Rhyne, in a marvailous cleere sun-shine day, there 
came a -dragon- three -times successively together in one 
day, and did hang in the ayre over a Towne called 
Sanctogoarin, and shaking his tayle over that Towne 
every time : it appeared visibly in the sight of many of 
the inhabitants, and, afterwards it came to passe, that the 
said towne was three times burned with fire, to the great 
harme and undooing of the people dwelling in the same ; 
for they were not able to make any resistance to quench 



306 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the fire, with all the might, Art, and power they could 
raise. And it was further observed, that about the time 
there were many dragons scene washing themselves in a 
certaine Fountaine or Well neere the towne, and if any 
of the people did by chance drinke of the water of that 
Well, theyr bellyes did instantly begin to swell, and 
they dyed as if they had been poysoned. Whereupon 
it was publicly decreed, that the said well should be 
filled up with stones, to the intent that never any man 
should afterwards be poisoned with that water ; and so 
a memory thereof was continued, and these thinges are 
written by Justinus Goblerus, in an Epistle to Gesner, 
affirming that he did not write fayned things, but such 
things as were true, and as he had learned from men 
of great honesty and credite, whose eyes did see and 
behold both the dragons, and the mishaps that followed 
by fire." 

Hitherto we have only seen that side of a Dragon's 
temperament that is inimical to man, but there are stories, 
equally veracious, of their affection and love for men, 
women, and children : how they, by kindness, may be 
tamed, and brought into kindly relations with the human 
species. 

Pliny, quoting Democritus, says that "a Man, called 
Thoas, was preserved in Arcadia by a Dragon. When a 
boy he had become much attached to it, and had reared it 
very tenderly ; but his father, being alarmed at the nature 
and monstrous size of the reptile, had taken and left it 
in the desert. Thoas being here attacked by some 
robbers, who lay in ambush, he was delivered from them 
by the Dragon, which recognised his voice, and came 
to his assistance." 

Topsell tells us that "there be some which by cer- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 307 

taine inchaunting verses doe tame Dragons, and rydeth 
upon their neckes, as a man would ride upon a horse, 
guiding and governing them with a bridle." 

And so widely spread was the belief that these fearful 
animals could be brought into subjection, that Magnus 
gives us an account " Of the Fight of King Harald 
against a tame Dragon," but this one seems hardly as 
docile as those previously instanced : " Haraldus the 
most illustrious King of Norway, residing, in his youth, 
with the King of Constantinople, and being condemned 




for man-slaughter, he was commanded to be cast to a 
tame Dragon that should rend him in pieces. As he 
went into the prison, one very faithfull servant he had, 
offered himself freely to die with his Master. 

" The keeper of the Castle, curiously observing them 
both, let them down at the mouth of the Den, being 
unarmed, and well searched ; wherefore, when the ser- 
vant was naked, he admitted Harald to be covered with 
his shirt, for modesty's sake, who gave him a braslet 
privily, and he scattered little fish on the pavement, that 



3 o8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the Dragon might first stay his hunger on them, and that 
the guilty persons that are shut up in the dark prison, 
might have a little light by the shining of the Fins 
and Scales. Then Haraldus picking up the bones of a 
Carkeis, stopt them into the linen he had, and bound 
them fast together like a Club. And. when the Dragon 
was let forth, and rushed greedily on his prey cast to 
him, he lept quickly on his back, and he thrust a 
Barber's razor in at his navill, that would only be 
pierced by iron, which, as luck was, he brought with 
him, and kept it concealed by him : this cold Serpent 
that had most hard scales all over, disdained to be entred 
in any other part of his body. But Haraldus sitting so 
high above him, could neither be bitten by his mouth, or 
hurt by his sharp teeth ; or broken with the turnings of 
his tayle. And his servant using the weapons, or bones 
put together, beat the Dragon's head till he bled, and died 
thereof by his many weighty strokes. When the King 
knew this, he freely changed his revenge, into his service, 
and pardoned these valiant persons, and furnishing them 
with a Ship and Monies, he gave them leave to depart." 
The natural instinct of Dragons was undoubtedly 
vicious, and they must have been most undesirable 
neighbours, tcste the following story quoted by Topsell 
from Stumpsius : " When the Region of Helvetia be- 
ganne first to be purged from noysome beasts, there was 
a horrible dragon found neere a Country towne called 
IVilser, who did destroy all men and beastes, that came 
within his danger in the time of his hunger, inasmuch 
that that towne and the fields therto adjoyning, was called 
Dcdwiler, that is, a Village of the Wildernes, for all the 
people and inhabitants had forsaken the same, and fledde 
to other places. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 309 

" There was a man of that Towne whose name was 
Winckkriedf, who was banished for manslaughter : this 
man promised, if he might have his pardon, and be re- 
stored againe to his former inheritance, that he would com- 
bat with that Dragon, and by God's helpe destroy him ; 
which thing was granted unto him with great joyfulnes. 
Wherefore' he was recalled home, and in the presence of 
many people went foorth to fight with that Dragon, whom 
he slew and overcame, whereat for joy hee lifted uppe 
his sword imbrued in the dragon's blood, in token of 
victory, but the blood distilled downe from the sword 
uppon his body, and caused him instantly to fall downe 
dead." 

"There be certaine beasts called Dracontopides, very 
great and potent Serpents, whose faces are like to the 
faces of Virgins, and the residue of their body like to 
dragons. -It is thought that such a one was the Ser- 
pent that deceived Eve, for Beda saith it had a Virgin's 
countenance, and therefore the woman, seeing the like- 
nes of her owne face, was the more easily drawne to 
believe it : into which the devill had entred ; they say 
he taught it to cover the body with leaves, and to shew 
nothing but the head and face. But this fable is not 
worthy to be refuted, because the Scripture itself, dooth 
directly gaine-say everie part of it. For, first of all it is 
called a Serpent, and if it had been a Dragon, Moses 
would have said so ; and, therefore, for ordinary punish- 
ment, GOD doth appoint it to creepe upon the belly, 
wherefore it is not likely that it had either wings or feete. 
Secondly, it was impossible and unlikely, that any part of 
the body was covered or conceiled from the sight of the 
woman, seeing she knew it directly to be a Serpent, as 
shee afterward confessed before GOD and her husband. 



310 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

" There be also certaine little dragons called in Arabia, 
Vcsga, and in Catalonia, Dragons of houses; these, when 
they bite, leave their teeth behind them, so as the wound 
never ceaseth swelling, as long as the teeth remain 
therein, and therefore, for the better cure thereof, the 
teeth are drawne forth, and so the wound will soone be 
healed. 

"And thus much for the hatred betwixt men and 
dragons, now we will proceede to other creatures. 

" The greatest discord is between the Eagle and the 
Dragon, for the Vultures, Eagles, Swannes and Dragons, 
are enemies to one another. The Eagles, when they 
shake their winges, make the dragons afraide with their 
ratling noyse ; then the dragon hideth himselfe within 
his den, so that he never fighteth but in the ayre, eyther 
when the Eagle hath taken away his young ones, and he, 
to recover them, flieth aloft after her, or else when the 
Eagle meeteth him in her nest, destroying her egges and 
young ones : for the Eagle devoureth the dragons, and 
little Serpents upon earth, and the dragons againe, and 
Serpents do the like against the Eagles in the ayre. 
Yea, many times the dragon attempteth to take away the 
prey out of the Eagle's talants, both on the ground, and 
in the ayre, so that there ariseth betwixt them a very 
hard and dangerous fight. 

" In the next place we are to consider the enmitie 
that is betwixt Dragons and Elephants, for, so great 
is their hatred one to another, that in Ethyopia the 
greatest dragons have no other name but Elephant killers. 
Among the Indians, also, the same hatred remaineth, 
against whom the dragons have many subtile inventions : 
for, besides the greate length of their bodies, where- 
withall they claspe and begirt the body of the Elephant, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 311 

continually byting of him, untill he fall downe dead, and 
in the which fall they are also bruzed to peeces ; for the 
safeguard of themselves, they have this device. They 
get and hide themselves in trees, covering their head, 
and letting the other part hang downe like a rope : in 
those trees they watch untill the Elephant come to eate 
and croppe of the branches ; then, suddenly, before he be 
aware, they leape into his face, and digge out his eyes, 
then doe they claspe themselves about his necke, and 
with their tayles, or hinder parts, beate and vexe the 
Elephant, untill they have made him breathlesse, for 
they strangle him with theyr fore parts, as they beate 
them with the hinder, so that in this combat they both 
perrish : and this is the disposition of the Dragon, that he 
never setteth upon the Elephant, but with the advantage 
of the place, and namely from some high tree or Rocke. 
" Sometimes againe, a multitude of dragons doe together 
observe the pathes of the Elephants, and crosse those 
pathes they tie together their tailes as it were in knots, 
so that when the Elephant commeth along in them, they 
insnare his legges, and suddainly leape uppe to his 
eyes, for that is the part they ayme at above all other, 
which they speedily pull out, and so not being able 
to doe him any more harme, the poore beast delivereth 
himselfe from present death by his owne strength, and 
yet through his blindnesse received in that combat, hee 
perrisheth by hunger, because he cannot choose his 
meate by smelling, but by his eyesight." 



THE CROCODILE. 

The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, 
is the Crocodile ; and it formerly had the character of 



3 i2 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

being very deceitful, and, by its weeping, attracted its 
victims. Sir John Mandeville thus describes them : 
" In this land, and many other places of Inde, are many 
cocodrilles, that is a maner of a long serpent, and on 
nights they dwell on water, and on dayes they dwell 
on land and rocks, and they eat not in winter. These 
serpents sley men, and eate them weeping, and they 
have no tongue." 

On the contrary, the Crocodile has a tongue, and a 
very large one too. As to the fable of its weeping, 
do we not even to this day call sham mourning, 
" shedding crocodile's tears ? " Spenser, in his " Faerie 
Queene," thus alludes to its supposed habits (B. I. 
c. 5. xviii.) : 

" As when a weaiie traveller, that strayes 
By muddy shore of broad seven-mouthed Nile, 
Unweeting of the perillous wandring wayes, 
Doth meete a cruell craftie crocodile, 
Which in false griefe hyding his harmeful guile, 
Doth weepe full sore, and sheddeth tender tears : 
The foolish man, that pities all this while 
His mourneful plight, is swallowed up unawares, 
Forgetfull of his owne, that mindes another's cares." 

And Shakespeare, from whom we can obtain a quo- 
tation on almost anything, makes Othello say (Act iv. 
sc. i) : 

" O devil, devil ! 

If that the earth could teem with woman's tears, 
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile ; 
Out of my sight ! " 

Gcsner, and Topsell, in his " Historic of Four-Footcd 
Beastes," give the accompanying illustration of a hippo- 
potamus eating a crocodile, the original of which, they 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 313 

say, came from the Coliseum at Rome, and was then in 
the Vatican. 

Topsell, in his " History of Serpents," dwells lovingly, 
and lengthily, on the crocodile. He says : " Some have 
written that the Crocodile runneth away from a man if 
he winke with his left eye, and looke steadfastly uppon 
him with his right eye, but if this bee true, it is not 
to be attributed to the vertue of the right eye, but 
onely to the rarenesse of sight, which is conspicuous to 
the Serpent from one eye. The greatest terrour unto 
Crocodiles, as both Seneca and Pliny affirme, are the 




inhabitants of the He Tentyrus within Nilus, for those 
people make them runne away with their voyces, and 
many times pursue and take them in snares. Of these 
people speaketh Solinus in this manner : There is a 
generation of men in the He Tentyrus within the waters 
of Nilus, which are of a most adverse nature to the 
Crocodile, dwelling also in the same place. And, 
although their persons or presence be of small stature, 
yet heerein is theyr courage admired, because at the 
suddaine sight of a Crocodile, they are no whit daunted ; 
for one of these dare meete and provoke him to runne 
away. They will also leape into Rivers and swimme 



3M CURIOUS CREATURES. 

after the Crocodile, and, meeting with it, without feare cast 
themselves uppon the Beasts backe, ryding on him as 
uppon a horse. And if the Beast lift uppe his head to 
byte him, when hee gapeth they put into his mouth a 
wedge, holding it hard at both ends with both their 
hands, and so, as it were with a bridle, leade, or rather 
drive, them captives to the Land, where, with theyr 
noyse, they so terrific them, that they make them cast 
uppe the bodies which they had swallowed into theyr 
bellies ; and because of this antypathy in Nature, the 
Crocodyles dare not come neare to this Hand. 

" And Strabo also hath recorded, that at what time 
crocodiles were brought to Rome, these Tentyrites folowed 
and drove them. For whom there was a certaine great 
poole or fish-pond assigned, and walled about, except 
one passage for the Beast to come out of the water into 
the sun shine : and when the people came to see them, 
these Tentyrites, with nettes would draw them to the 
Land, and put them backe againe into the water at 
theyr owne pleasure. For they so hooke them by theyr 
eyes, and bottome of their bellyes, which are their 
tenderest partes, that, like as horses broken by theyr 
Ryders, they yeelde unto them, and forget theyr strength 
in the presence of these theyr Conquerors. . . . 

"To conclude this discourse of Crocodiles inclina- 
tion, even the Egyptians themselves account a Crocodile 
a savage, and cruell murthering beast, as may appeare 
by their Hieroglyphicks, for when they will decyphcr a 
mad man, they picture a Crocodile, who beeing put from 
his desired prey by forcible resistance, hee presently 
rageth against himselfe. And they are often taught by 
lamentable experience, what fraude and malice to mankind 
liveth in these beasts ; for, when they cover themselves 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 315 

under willowes and greene hollow bankes, till some 
people come to the waters side to draw and fetch water, 
and then suddenly, or ever they be aware, they are taken, 
and drawne into the water. 

" And also, for this purpose, because he knoweth that 
he is not able to overtake a man in his course or chase, 
he taketh a great deale of water in his mouth, and 
casteth it in the pathwaies, so that when they endeavour 
to run from the crocodile, they fall downe in the slippery 
path, and are overtaken and destroyed by him. The 
common proverbe also, Crocodili lachrimce, the Crocodile's 
teares, justifieth the treacherous nature of this beast, 
for there are not many bruite beasts that can weepe, but 
such is the nature of the Crocodile, that to get a man 
within his danger, he will sob, sigh, and weepe, as 
though he were in extremitie, but suddenly he destroyeth 
him. Others say, that the Crocodile weepeth after he 
hath devoured a man. . . . 

" Seeing the friendes of it are so few, the enemies of 
it must needes be many, and therefore require a more 
large catalogue or story. In the first ranke whereof 
commeth (as worthy the first place), the Ichneumon or 
Pharaoh's Mouse, who rageth against their egges and 
their persons ; for it is certaine that it hunteth with all 
sagacity of sense to find out theyr nests, and having 
found them, it spoyleth, scattereth, breaketh, and 
emptieth all theyr egs. They also watch the old ones 
a sleepe, and finding their mouths open against the 
beames of the Sunne, suddenly enter into them, and, 
being small, creepe downe theyr vast and large throates 
before they be aware, and then, putting the Crocodile to 
exquisite and intollerable torment, by eating their guttes 
asunder, and so their soft bellies, while the Crocodile 



3i 6 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

tumbleth to and fro sighing and weeping, now in the 
depth of water, now on the Land, never resting till 
strength of nature fayleth. For the incessant gnawing 
of the Ichneumon so provoketh her to seek her rest, in 
the unrest of every part, herbe, element, throwes, throbs, 
rowlings, tossings, mournings, but all in vaine, for the 
enemy within her breatheth through her breath, and 
sporteth herselfe in the consumption of those vitall parts, 
which wast and weare away by yeelding to her unpacific- 
able teeth, one after the other, till shee that crept in by 
stealth at the mouth, like a puny theefe, come out at the 
belly like a conquerour, thorough a passage opened by 
her owne labour and industry. . . . 

" The medicines arising out of it are also many. 
The first place belongeth to the Caule, which hath moe 
benefits or vertues in it, than can be expressed. The 
bloud of a Crocodile is held profitable for many thinges, 
and among other, it is thought to cure the bitings of any 
Serpent. Also by annoynting the eyes, it cureth both 
the dregs, or spots of blood in them, and also restoreth 
soundnesse and clearenesse to the sight, taking away 
all dulnesse, or deadnesse from the eyes. And it is 
said, that if a man take the liquor which commeth from 
a piece of a Crocodyle fryed, and annoynte therewithall 
his wound or harmed part, that then he shall bee 
presently rid of all paine and torment. The skinne both 
of the Land and Water Crocodile dryed into powder, 
and the same powder, with Vineger or Oyle, layd upon 
a part or member of the body, to be seared, cut off or 
lanced, taketh away all sense and feeling of paine from 
the instrument in the action. 

"All the jEgytians doe with the fat or sewet of a 
Crocodile, (is to) annoynt all them that be sick of Feavers, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 317 

for it hath the same operation which the fat of a Sea- 
dogge, or Dog-fish hath, and, if those parts of men and 
beasts which are hurt and wounded with Crocodile's 
teeth, be annoynted with this fat, it also cureth them. 
Being concocted with Water and Vineger, and so rowled 
uppe and downe in the mouth, it cureth the tooth-ache : 
and also it is outwardly applyed agaynst the byting of 
Flyes, Spyders, Wormes, and such like, for this cause, 
as also because it is thought to cure Wennes, bunches in 
the flesh, and olde woundes. It is solde deare, and held 
pretious in Alcair, (Cairo.) Scaliger writeth that it cureth 
the Gangren. The Canyne teeth which are hollow, 
filled with Frankinsence, and tyed to a man or woman, 
which hath the toothach, cureth them, if the party know 
not of the carrying them about : And so they write, that 
if the little stones which are in their belly be taken forth 
and so used, they work the same effect against Feavers. 
The dung is profitable against the falling off of the hayre, 
and many such other things." 



THE BASILISK AND COCKATRICE. 




Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. 
Topsell says it is the same as the Cockatrice, depicts it 
as a crowned serpent, and says : " This Beast is called 



3 i8 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

by the Graecian Basiliscos, and by the Latine, Regnlns, 
because he seemeth to be the King of Serpents, not 
for his magnitude or greatnesse : For there are many 
Serpents bigger than he, as there be many foure-footed 
Beastes bigger than the Lyon, but, because of his stately 
pace, and magnanimious mind : for hee creepeth not on 
the earth like other Serpents, but goeth halfe upright, 
for which occasion all other Serpentes avoyde his sight. 
And it seemeth nature hath ordayned him for that pur- 




pose ; for, besides the strength of his poyson, which is 
uncurablc, he hath a certain combe or Corronet uppon 
his head, as shall be shewed in due place." 

Pliny thus describes " The Serpents called Basilisks. 
There is the same power * also in the serpent called the 

* Alluding to the Catoblepon (see ante, p. 85), and its power of killing 
animals and human beings with its eye. This power does not seem confined 
to animals, for Sir John Mandeville says : "An other yle there is northward 
where there are many evill and fell women, and they have precious stones in 
their eies, and they have such kinde y l if they behold any man with wrath, they 
slcy them of the beholding, as the Basalisk docth." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 319 

Basilisk. It is produced in the province of Cyrene, 
being not more than twelve fingers in length. It has a 
white spot on the head, strongly resembling a sort of 
diadem. When it hisses, all the other serpents fly from 
it : and it does not advance its body, like the others, by 
a succession of folds, but moves along upright and erect 
upon the middle. It destroys all shrubs, not only by 
its contact, but even those that it has breathed upon ; 
it burns up all the grass too, and breaks the stones, so 
tremendous is its noxious influence. It was formerly a 
general belief that if a man on horseback killed one of 
these animals with a spear, the poison would run up 
the weapon and kill, not only the rider, but the horse 
as well. To this dreadful monster the effluvium of the 
weasel is fatal, a thing which has been tried with success, 
for kings have often desired to see its body when killed ; 
so true is it that it has pleased Nature that there should 
be nothing without its antidote. The animal is thrown 
into the hole of the basilisk, which is easily known from 
the soil around it being infected. The weasel destroys 
the basilisk by its odour, but dies itself in this struggle 
of nature against its own self." 
Du Bartas says : 

" What shield of Ajax could avoid their death 
By th' Basilisk whose pestilentiall breath 
Doth pearce firm Marble, and whose banefull eye 
Wounds with a glance, so that the wounded dye." 

The origin of the Cockatrice is, to say the least, 
peculiar : " There is some question amongest Writers, 
about the generation of this Serpent : for some, (and 
those very many and learned,) affirme him to be brought 
forth of a Cockes egge. For they say that when a 
Cocke groweth old, he layeth a certaine egge without 



3 20 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



any shell, instead whereof it is covered with a very 
thicke skinne, which is able to withstand the greatest 
force of an easie blow or fall. They say, moreover, 
that this Egge is layd onely in the Summer time, about 
the beginning of the Dogge-dayes, being not so long 
as a Hens Egge, but round and orbiculer : Sometimes 
of a Foxie, sometimes of a yellowish muddy colour, 
which Egge is generated of the putrified seed of the 
Cocke, and afterward sat upon by a Snake or a Toad, 
bringeth forth the Cockatrice, being halfe a foot in 
length, the hinder part like a Snake, the former part 
like a Cocke, because of a treble combe on his forehead. 

" But the vulger opinion of Europe is, that the Egge is 
nourished by a Toad, and not by a Snake ; howbeit, in 
better experience it is found that the Cocke doth sit 
on that egge himselfe : whereof Levinns Lernnius in his 
twelfth booke of the hidden miracles of nature, hath this 
discourse, in the fourth chapter thereof. There hap- 
pened (saith he) within our memory in the Citty Pirizaa, 
that there were two old Cockes which had layd Egges, 
but they could not, with clubs and staves drive them 
from the Egges, untill they were forced to breake the 
egges in sunder, and strangle the Cockes. . . . 

" There be many grave humaine Writers, whose 
authority is irrefragable, affirming not onely that there 
be cockatrices, but also that they infect the ayre, and 
kill with their sight. And Mercurial! affirmcth, that 
when he was with Maximilian the Emperour, hee saw 
the carkase of a cockatrice, reserved in his treasury 
among his undoubted monuments. . . . Wee doe read 
that in Rome, in the dayes of Pope Leo the fourth (847 
to 855), there was a cockatrice found in a Vault of a 
Church or Chappell, dedicated to Saint Lucea, whose 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 321 

pestiferous breath hadde infected the Ayre round about, 
whereby great mortality followed in Rome : but how the 
said Cockatrice came thither, it was never knowne. It 
is most probable that it was created, and sent of GOD 
for the punnishment of the Citty, which I do the more 
easily beleeve, because Segonius and Julius Scaliger do 
affirme, that the sayd pestiferous beast was killed by 
the prayers of the said Leo the fourth. . . . 

" The eyes of the Cockatrice are redde, or somewhat 
inclyning to blacknesse ; the skin and carkase of this 
beast have beene accounted precious, for wee doe read 
that the Pergameni did buy but certaine peeces of a 
Cockatrice, and gave for it two pound and a halfe of 
Sylver : and because there is an opinion that no Byrd, 
Spyder, or venomous Beast will endure the sight of 
this Serpent, they did hang uppe the skinne thereof 
stuffed, in the Temples of Apollo and Diana, in a cer- 
taine thinne Net made of Gold; and therefore it is 
sayde, that never any Swallow, Spider, or other Serpent 
durst come within those Temples ; And not onely the 
skinne or the sight of the Cockatrice worketh this effect, 
but also the flesh thereof, being rubbed uppon the 
pavement, postes, or Walles of any House. And more- 
over, if Silver bee rubbed over with the powder of the 
Cockatrices flesh, it is likewise sayde that it giveth it a 
tincture like unto Golde : and, besides these qualities, 
I remember not any other in the flesh or skinne of this 
serpent. . . . 

" We read also that many times in Affrica, the Mules 
fall downe dead for thirst, or else lye dead on the ground 
for some other causes, unto whose Carkase innumerable 
troupes of Serpentes gather themselves to feede there 
uppon ; but when the Bazeliske windeth the sayd dead 



322 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

body, he giveth forth his voyce : at the first hearing 
whereof, all the Serpents hide themselves in the neare 
adjoyning sandes, or else runne into theyr holes, not 
daring to come forth againe, untill the Cockatrice have 
well dyned and satisfied himselfe. At which time he 
giveth another signall by his voyce of his departure : 
then come they forth, but never dare meddle with the 
remnants of the dead beast, but go away to seeke some 
other prey. And if it happen that any other pestifer- 
ous beast cometh unto the waters to drinke neare the 
place wherein the Cockatrice is lodged, so soone as 
he perceiveth the presence thereof, although it be not 
heard nor scene, yet it departeth back againe, without 
drinking, neglecting his owne nutriment, to save itselfe 
from further danger : whereupon Lucanus saith, 



Late sibi submovet omne 

S) et in vacua regnat Basiliscus arena, 

Which may be thus englished ; 

He makes the "vulgar farre from him to stand, 
While Cockatrice alone raignes on the sand. 

11 Now we are to intreate of the poyson of this serpent, 
for it is a hot and a venemous poyson, infecting the Ayre 
round about, so as no other Creature can live neare 
him, for it killeth, not onely by his hissing, and by his 
sight, (as is sayd of the Gorgons) but also by his touch- 
ing, both immediately, and mediately; that is to say, 
not onely when a man toucheth the body it selfe, but 
also by touching a Weapon wherewith the body was 
slayne, or any other dead beast slaine by it, and there 
is a common fame, that a Horseman taking a Speare in 
his hand, which had bcene thrust through a Cockatrice, 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 323 

did not onely draw the poyson of it unto his owne 
body, and so dyed, but also killed his horse thereby." 



THE SALAMANDER. 

Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but 
almost all have approached the subject with diffidence, 
as if not quite sure of the absolute entity of the animal. 
Thus, Aristotle does not speak of it authoritatively : 
" And the Salamander shews that it is possible for 
some animal substances to exist in the fire, for they say 
that fire is extinguished when this animal walks over 
it." Pliny, on Salamanders, writes : " We find it stated 
by many authors, that a serpent is produced from the 




spinal marrow of a man. Many creatures, in fact, 
among the quadrupeds even, have a secret, and myste- 
rious origin. 

" Thus, for instance, the salamander, an animal like a 
lizard in shape, and with a body starred all over, never 
comes out except during heavy showers, and disappears 
the moment it becomes fine. This animal is so intensely 
cold as to extinguish fire by its contact, in the same way 
that ice doth. It spits forth a milky matter from its 
mouth ; and whatever part of the human body is touched 
with this, all the hair falls off, and the part assumes the 
appearance of leprosy. . . . The wild boar of Pamphy- 
lia, and the mountainous parts of Cilicia, after having 



324 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

devoured a Salamander, will become poisonous to those 
who eat its flesh ; and yet the danger is quite impercep- 
tible by reason of any peculiarity in the smell and taste. 
The Salamander, too, will poison either water or wine in 
which it happens to be drowned ; and, what is more, if it 
has only drunk thereof, the liquid becomes poisonous." 

This idea of an animal supporting life in the fire is 
not confined to the Salamander alone, for both Aristotle 
and Pliny aver that there is a fly which possesses this 
accomplishment. Says the former: "In Cyprus, when 
the manufacturers of the stone called chalcitis burn it for 
many days in the fire, a winged creature something 
larger than a great fly is seen walking and leaping in 
the fire : these creatures perish when taken from the 
fire." And the latter : " That element, also, which is 
so destructive to matter, produces certain animals ; for 
in the copper-smelting furnaces of Cyprus, in the very 
midst of the fire, there is to be seen, flying about, a 
four-footed animal with wings, the size of a large fly : 
this creature, called the ' pyrallis/ and by some the 
' pyrausta.' So long as it remains in the fire it will 
live, but if it comes out, and flies a little distance from 
it, it will instantly die." 

Ser Marco Polo thoroughly pooh-poohs the idea of 
the Salamander, and says it is Asbestos. Speaking of 
the Province of Chingintalas, he says : " And you must 
know that in the same mountain there is a vein of the 
substance of which Salamander is made. For the real 
truth is that the Salamander is no beast, as they allege 
in our part of the world, but is a substance found in 
the earth ; and I will tell you about it. 

" Everybody must be aware that it can be no animal's 
nature to live in fire, seeing that every animal is com- 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 325 

posed of all the four elements. Now, I, Marco Polo, 
had a Turkish acquaintance of the name of Zurficar, and 
he was a very clever fellow, and this Turk related to 
Messer Marco Polo how he had lived three years in that 
region on behalf of the Great Kaan, in order to procure 
those Salamanders for him. He said that the way they 
got them was by digging in that mountain till they found 
a certain vein. The substance of this vein was then 
taken and crushed, and, when, so treated, it divides, as it 
were, into fibres of wool, which they set forth to dry. 
When dry, these fibres were pounded in a great copper 
mortar, and then washed, so as to remove all the earth, 
and to leave only the fibres, like fibres of wool. These 
were then spun, and made into napkins. When first 
made, these napkins are not very white, but by putting 
them in the fire for a while they come out as white as 
snow. And so again, whenever they become dirty they 
are bleached by being put in the fire. 

" Now this, and nought else, is the truth about the 
Salamander, and the people of the country all say the 
same. Any other account of the matter is fabulous 
nonsense. And I may add that they have, at Rome, a 
napkin out of this stuff, which the Grand Kaan sent to 
the Pope, to make a wrapper, for the Holy Sudarium of 
Jesus Christ." 

That extremely truthful person, Benvenuto Cellini, 
in his thoroughly veracious autobiography, tells us the 
following Snake Story: "When I was about five years 
old, my father happened to be in a basement- chamber 
of our house, where they had been washing, and where 
a good fire of oak-logs was still burning ; he had a viol 
in his hand, and was playing and singing alone beside 
the fire. 



326 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

"The weather was very cold. Happening to look into 
the fire, he spied in the middle of those most burning 
flames a little creature like a lizard, which was sporting 
in the core of the intensest coals. Becoming instantly 
aware of what the thing was, he had my sister and me 
called, and, pointing it out to us children, gave me a 
great box on the ears, which caused me to howl and 
weep with all my might. Then he pacified me good- 
humouredly, and spoke as follows : ' My dear little boy, 
I am not striking you for any wrong that you have done, 
but only to make you remember that that lizard which 
you see in the fire is a salamander, a creature which 
has never been seen before, by any one of whom we 
have credible information.' So saying, he kissed me, 
and gave me some pieces of money." 

Even Topsell is half-hearted about its fire-resisting 
qualities, giving no modern instances, and only, for it, 
quoting old authors. According to his account, and to 
the picture which I have taken from him, the Salamander 
is not a prepossessing-looking animal: " The Salamander 
is also foure-footed like a Lyzard, and all the body over 
it is set with spots of blacke and yellow, yet is the sight 
of it abhominable, and fearefull to man. The head of it 
is great, and sometimes they have yellowish bellyes and 
tayles, and sometimes earthy." 

He also says its bite is not only poisonous, but in- 
curable, and that it poisons all it touches. 

THE TOAD. 

Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, 
and they had but one redeeming quality, which seems 
to be lost to its modern descendants : 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 327 

" Sweet are the uses of adversity ; 
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, 
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head." 

(As You Like It, Act ii. sc. i.) 

Pliny says of these animals : " Authors quite vie with 
one another in relating marvellous stories about them ; 
such, for instance, as that if they are brought into the 
midst of a concourse of people, silence will instantly 
prevail ; as also that, by throwing into boiling water, 
a small bone that is found in their right side, the vessel 
will immediately cool, and the water refuse to boil again 
until it has been removed. This bone, they say, may 
be found by exposing a dead toad to ants, and letting 
them eat away the flesh ; after which the bones must be 
put into the vessel one by one. 

" On the other hand, again, in the left side of this 
reptile there is another bone, they say, which, when 
thrown into water, has all the appearance of making 
it boil, and the name given to which is ' apocynon ' 
(averting dogs). This bone it is said has the property 
of assuaging the fury of dogs, and, if put in the drink, 
of conciliating love, and ending discord and strife. 
Worn, too, as an amulet, it acts as an aphrodisiac, we 
are told." 

Topsell writes so diffusely on the virtues of these 
" toad stones " that I can only afford space for a portion 
of his remarks : " There be many late Writers, which 
doe affirme that there is a precious stone in the head of 
a Toade, whose opinions (because they attribute much 
to the vertue of this stone) is good to examine in this 
place. . . . There be many that weare these stones in 
Ringes, beeing verily perswaded that they keepe them 
from all manner of grypings and paines of the belly, and 



328 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

the small guttes. But the Art, (as they term it) is in 
taking of it out, for they say it must be taken out of the 
head alive, before the Toade be dead, with a peece of 
cloth of the colour of redde Skarlet, wherewithall they 
are much delighted, so that while they stretch out them- 
selves as it were in sport upon that cloth, they cast 
out the stone of their head, but instantly they sup it 
up againe, unlesse it be taken from them through some 
secrete hole in the said cloth, whereby it falleth into a 
cesterne or vessell of water, into the which the Toade 
dare not enter, by reason of the coldnes of the water. . . . 
" This stone is that which in auncient time was called 
Batrachites, and they attribute unto it a vertue besides 
the former, namely, for the breaking of the stone in 
the bladder, and against the Falling sicknes. And they 
further write that it is a discoverer of present poyson, 
for in the presence of poyson it will change the colour. 
And this is the substaunce of that which is written about 
this stone. Now for my part I dare not conclude either 
with it, or against it, for many are directlie for this stone 
ingendered in the braine or head of the Toade : on the 
other side, some confesse such a stone by name and 
nature, but they make doubt of the generation of it, 
as others have delivered ; and therefore, they beeing in 
sundry opinions, the hearing whereof might confound 
the Reader, I will referre him for his satisfaction unto a 
Toade, which hee may easily every day kill : For although 
when the Toade is dead, the vertue thereof be lost, which 
consisted in the eye, or blew spot in the middle, yet the 
substance remaineth, and, if the stone be found there in 
substance, then is the question at an end ; but, if it be 
not, then must the generation of it be sought for in some 
other place." 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 329 

THE LEECH. 

The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as 
a means of letting blood ; but, among the old Romans, 
it had medicinal uses such as we know not of now. It 
was used as a hair dye. Pliny gives two receipts for 
making it, and it must have been powerful stuff, if we 
can believe his authority : " Leeches left to putrify for 
forty days in red wine, stain the hair black. Others, 
again, recommend one sextarius of leeches to be left to 
putrefy the same number of days in a leaden vessel, 
with two sextarii of vinegar, the hair to be well rubbed 
with the mixture in the sun. According to Sornatius 
this preparation is, naturally, so penetrating, that if 
females, when they apply it, do not take the precaution 
of keeping some oil in the mouth, the teeth, even, will 
become blackened thereby." 

Olaus Magnus gives us the accompanying picture of the 




luxurious man in his arm-chair by the river-side, catch- 
ing his own leeches, and suffering from gnats ; and also 



330 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

his far more prudent friend, who makes the experiment 
on the vile body of his horse, and thus saves his own 
blood ; but he gives us no account of its habits and 
customs. 

THE SCORPION. 

Of the Scorpion, Pliny says : " This animal is a dan- 
gerous scourge, and has a venom like that of the serpent ; 
with the exception that its effects are far more painful, 
as the person who is stung will linger for three days 
before death ensues. The sting is invariably fatal to 
virgins, and nearly always so to matrons. It is so to 
men also, in the morning, when the animal has issued 
from its hole in a fasting state, and has not yet happened 
to discharge its poison by an accidental stroke. The 
tail is always ready to strike, and ceases not for an 
instant to menace, so that no opportunity may possibly 
be lost. . . . 

" In Scythia, the Scorpion is able to kill even the 
swine, with its sting, an animal which, in general, is 
proof against poisons of this kind in a remarkable degree. 
When stung, those swine which are black, die more 
speedily than others, and more particularly if they 
happen to throw themselves into the water. When a 
person has been stung, it is generally supposed that 
he may be cured by drinking the ashes of the Scorpion 
mixed with wine. It is the belief also that nothing is 
more baneful to the Scorpion than to dip it in oil. . . . 
Some writers, too, are of opinion that the Scorpion 
devours its offspring, and that the one among the young 
which is most adroit avails itself of its sole mode of 
escape, by placing itself on the back of the mother, 
and thus finding a place where it is in safety from 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 331 

the tail and sting. The one that thus escapes, they 
say, becomes the avenger of the rest, and, at last, taking 
advantage of its elevated position, puts its parents to 
death." 

Topsell has some marvels to relate concerning the 
generation of Scorpions : " And it is reported by Elianus, 
that about Estamenus in India, there are abundance of 
Scorpions generated, onely by corrupt raine water stand- 
ing in that place. Also, out of the Baziliske beaten into 
peeces, and so putrified, are Scorpions engendred. And 
when as one had planted the herbe Basilica on a wall, 
in the roome or place thereof hee found two Scorpions. 
And some say that if a man chaw in his mouth, fasting, 
this herbe Basill before he wash, and, afterwards, lay 
the same abroade uncovered where no sun commeth at 
it for the space of seaven nights, taking it in all the 
daytime, he shall at length find it transmuted into a 
Scorpion, with a tayle of seaven knots. 

" Hollerius, to take away all scruple of this thing, 
writeth that in Italy, in his dayes, there was a man that 
had a Scorpion bredde in his braine, by continuall 
smelling to this herbe Basil ; and Gesner by relation of 
an Apothecary in Fraunce, writeth also a storie of a 
young mayde, who by smelling to Basill, fell into an 
exceeding head-ach, whereof she died without cure, and, 
after her death, beeing opened, there were found little 
Scorpions in her braine. 

"Aristotle remembreth an herbe which he calleth Sisim- 
brice, out of which putrified Scorpions are engendered. 
And wee have showed already, in the history of the 
Crocodile, that out of the Crocodile's egges doe many 
times come Scorpions, which at their first egression doe 
kill theyr dam that hatched them." 



332 CURIOUS CREATURES. 

There is a curious legend, that if a Scorpion is sur- 
rounded by fire, so that it cannot escape, it will commit 
suicide by stinging itself to death. 



THE ANT. 

No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways 
we are told to consider, and gather wisdom therefrom, 
was avaricious and lustful after gold ; but it seems it 
was even so, at least, in Pliny's time ; but then they were 
abnormally large : " The horns of an Indian Ant, sus- 
pended in the temple of Hercules at Erythrae (Ritri) 
have been looked upon as quite miraculous for their size. 
This ant excavates gold from holes, in a country to the 
north of India, the inhabitants of which are known as 
the Dardae. It has the colour of a cat, and is in size 
as large as an Egyptian wolf. This gold, which it ex- 
tracts in the winter, is taken by the Indians during the 
heats of summer, while the Ants are compelled, by the 
excessive warmth, to hide themselves in their holes. 
Still, however, on being aroused by catching the scent 
of the Indians, they sally forth, and frequently tear them 
to pieces, though provided with the swiftest Camels for 
the purpose of flight ; so great is their fleetness, com- 
bined with their ferocity, and their passion for gold ! " 



THE BEE. 

The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, de- 
veloped, in the regions of the North, a peculiarity to 
which it seems a stranger with us, but which might 
be encouraged, with beneficial effect, by the Temperance 
Societies. 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 333 

The Bees infested drunkards, being drawn to them 




by the smell of the liquor with which they had soaked 
their bodies, and stung them. 

THE HORNET. 




So also, up North, they seem to have had a special 



334 



CURIOUS CREATURES. 



breed of Hornets, which must have been ferocious 
indeed, sparing neither man nor beast, as is evi- 
denced by the corpses, and by the extremely ener- 
getic efforts of the yet living man to cope with his 
enemies. 




INDEX. 



INDEX. 



ABAMIRON, country of men with 

legs reversed, 9. 
Acanthis, the, 70. 
Accursius, 147. 
Achillium. See Sponges. 
yEdonaus, 287. 
/Egipanae, a name for Satyrs, 

57- 

yEgithus, the, 70, 71. 
/Egopithecus, the, 55. 
/Elianus, 88, 93, 96, 148, 158, 

212, 280, 331. 
AL salon, the, 70. 
/Esculapius, 148. 
/Etolia, 280. 
Agatharcides, 10, 16. 
A'inos, the, a hairy people of 

Japan, 50, 51. 
Albertus, 93, TOO, 252. 
Albinos, 10. 
Alciatus, 65. 
Aldrovandus, 47, 48, 81, 97, 

154. i7> 171. i7 2 > X 79, 
180, 204, 228, 256, 262, 
270, 302, 317. 

Alexander, 146. 

Alumnus, 100. 

Amahut, a tree, 67. 

Amazons, 23, their fate after 
their defeat by the Greeks, 24, 
25. Sir John Mandeville 's 
account of them, 25, 26 ; 
called Medusa, 85. 



Ambergris, 222, 223. 

Anclorus, the, 148. 

Andrew, an Italian, 151. 

Androgyni, tribe of, 1 1. 

Animal lore, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71. 

Ant, the, 71, 112, 332. 

Antacasi (whales without spinal 
bones'], 226. 

Antelope, the, 145, 146. 

Anthropophagi, 6, 9, 10, 18, 72. 

An thus, the, 71. 

Anu, 80. 

Apes, 65, 66. 

Apocynon. See The Toad. 

Apollonides, 12. 

Apollonius, 58, 59. 

Archelaiis, 21. 

Archigene, 134. 

Arctopithecus, the, or Bear- 
Ape, 55, 66. 

Arimaspi, 8, 9. 

Aristotle, 71, 105, 148, 156, 
199, 201, 203, 248, 253, 
262, 268, 286, 287, 323, 

324, 331- 
Artemidorus, 16. 
Asbestos. See Salamander. 
Astomi, a people with no mouths, 

and who subsist by smell, 15. 
Ass, the, 70. 
Ass, the Indian, 88. 
Ass, the wild, 68. 
Atergatis, 209. 

2 II 



338 



INDEX. 



Athenseus, 86. 
Ausonius, 64. 
Avicen, 72, 287. 

B. 

BABOONS, 62. 

Bacchantes, 80. 

Bacchae, a name for Satyrs, 56. 

Baffin, 245. 

Balaena, the, 239, 240. 

Barnacle Goose, the, 174, 175, 

176, 177, 178, 179. 
Bartlemew de Glanville, 231. 
Basilisk, 156, 317, 318, 319, 

321, 33'- 

Batrachites. See The Toad. 

Bear, the, 68, 104, 105, 106, 
107, 108, 109, no, in, 
112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 
117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 

122, 123, 124, 125, 148. 

Bear-Ape. See Arctopithecus. 
Bee, the, 112, 113, 332, 333. 
Beeton, 10. 
Bekenhawh, 189. 
Bellonius, Petrus, 96. 
Berosus, 79, 206. 
Bevis of Hampton, 158. 
Bird, Miss, 50. 

Birds, peculiarities of, 204, 206. 
Bishop-fish, the, 228, 230. 
Boar, the wild, 69, in, 139. 
Boas, the, 289, 290, 291. 
Bolindinata. See Bird of 

Paradise. 

Boloma, the. See Dog-fish. 
Bonosa, the, 193. 
Bceothius, 228. 

Borometz, the. See Lamb Tree. 
Boscawen, W. St. Chd, 78. 
Brazavolus, 94. 
Bugil, the, 84. 
Bull, the, and Bears, 109, and 

Wolves, 137. 
Bustard, the, 148. 



C. 

CADAMUSTUS, ALOISIUS, 278. 
Cadmus, 64, 65. 
Caesar, Julius, 46, 47, 148. 
Calf and Wolves, 137. 
Calingas, a tribe of India whose 

women conceive at the age of 

five years and die at eight, 1 7. 
Callimachus, 285. 
Calliphanes, n. 
Cambden, Mr., 144. 
Camden, 177. 
Camel, the, 148. 
Cants Lucernarius, 150, 151. 
Cardanus, Hieronimus, 53,226, 

287, 291, 305. 
Cartazonon. See Unicorn. 
Carthier, Jacques, 237. 
Cat, the, 154, 155, 156. 
Caterpillar, the, 71. 
Catharcludi, a tribe in India, 14. 
Catableponta, name for Gorgon, 

84, 85, 318. 
Cattle, curious, 23. 
Cebi, the, 57. 

Cellini, Benvenuto, 325, 326. 
Centaurs, 65, 78, 79, 80, 81, 

82,83. 

Cephus, the, 74. 
Cercopithecus, the, 52, 53. 
Cetum Capillatum vel Crinitum. 

See Whale, Hairy. 
Chameleon, the, 163. 
Chimaera, the, 64, 170, 171. 
Chiron, the Centaur, 79. 
Chloraeus, the, 69. 
Choromandas, a nation without 

a proper voice, 15. 
Christie, Mr., on Paleolithic 

remains, 39. 
Cicero, 12. 
Circhos, the, 247. 
Claudius, Emperor. See Orca. 
Clayks. See Barnacle Geese. 
Clement, Pope, 96. 



INDEX 



339 



Clitarchus, 16. 

Cock, the, 156, 157. 

Cock with serpent's tail, 204, 

205. 
Cockatrice, the, 85, 317, 319, 

320, 321, 322. 
Ccelius, 77. 
Condor, the, 183. 
Conger Eel, the, 262. 
Corocotta, the, 72. 
Couret, M. de, 5. 
Crab, the, 129, 267, 268. 
Crane, the, 203. 
Crannoges, 41. 
Crates of Pergamus, 10, 17. 
Crawford, John, 49. 
Cray-fish, 267. 
Cristotinius. See Lamia. 
Crocodile, the, 311, 312, 313, 

3i4 3*5, 3 l6 > 3*7- 
Crocotta, the, 159. 
Cronos, or Hea, 79. 
Crow, the, 70, 129, 130, 131. 
Ctesias, 4, 14, 16, 71. 
Cuvier, 185. 
Cyclops, 7, 65. 

Cynocephalus, the, 55, 56, 63. 
Cyrni, the, who live 400 years, 



D. 

D/EDALUS, H.M.S., 274, 275, 

276. 

Dagon, 209. 

Damon, 12. 

Darwin, Descent of Man, i ; 
Tailed men, 4 ; Shell -fish 
middens in Tierra del Fuego, 
42. 

Davis, Barnard, 50. 

De Barri, Gerald, 174. 

Deer and Bears, 109. 

De Leo, Ronzo, 31. 

Demetrius, 121, 237. 

Democritus, 131, 285, 306. 



Denbigh Worme, the. See 

Dragons. 

Descent of Man, i. 
De Thaun, Philip, 91. 
De Veer, Gerat, 177. 
Devil Whale, the. See *Trol 

Whale. 

Dingo, the, 126. 
Dinornis Giganteus. See Moa. 
Dion, 77. 
Dog, the, 150, 151, 152, 153, 

154- 

Dog-fish, the, 255. 

Dog, the Mimic or Getulian, 

*5 IS 1 - 

Dolphin, the, 242, 243. 

D ordogne, Paleolithic remains 
in caves at, 39. 

Dormouse, the, 67. 

Draco, 64. 

Dracontopides. See Dragons. 

Dragon, the, 158, 162, 293, 294, 
295, 296,297,298,299,300, 
301,302,303,304,305,306, 
37> 308, 309, 310, 311. 

Drake, Sir Francis, 177. 

Du Bartas, 74, 168, 169, 179, 
185, 186, 200, 202, 225, 
230, 231, 243, 319- 

Duck, the, 70 ; four-fooled, 203. 

Dugong, the, 213. 

Duret, Claude, 166. 

Dwarfs, with no mouth, 19; 
mentioned in the Bible, 26 ; 
Homer and the pygmies 
battle with the Cranes, 26,27, 
28 ; only twenty-seven inches 
high,-2.% ; their age, 28 ; Spuri- 
ous pygmies, 28 ; Northern 
dwarfs, 29 ; in America, 29, 
30, 31 ; African dwarfs, 31, 
32 ; their acute ness, 33. 



EAGLE, the, 69, 70. 



340 



INDEX. 



Eale, the, 159, 160. 
Echeneis, the. See Remora. 
Edmund, St., 139, 140. 
Eels, thirty feet long, 18. 
Egede, Hans, 270. 
Egemon, 280. 

Egg, Remarkable, 179, 180. 
Ehannum. See Lamia. 
Eigi - einhamir. See Were 

Wolves. 
Elephant, the, 100, 147, 163, 

3io 3"- 
Elpis, 158. 
Embarus, 123. 
Emin Pacha, 32. 
Empusae. See Lamia. 
Enchanters, families of, n. 
Epyornis maximus, 183. 
Ethiopia, wonders of, 13. 
Eudoxus, 15. 
Euryale, 85. 

F. 

FABRICIUS, GEORGE, 61. 
Falisci, or Hirpi, a tribe un- 

harmed by fire, 12. 
Farnesius, 90. 
Fauns, 5, 56, 57, 60. 
Ferrerius, Joannes, 95. 
Fincelius, 146. 
Fish, curious, 248, 249, 250, 

251, 252, 253- 
Fish, senses of, 258, 259. 
Flavianus, 243. 
Florentinus, 287. 
Footless birds. See Apodes. 
Formicas Lions, 58. 
Fox, the, 68, 70, 125, 126, 127, 

128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 

.133, '34- 

Fridlevus, 293, 294. 
Frobisher, Sir Martin, 245. 
Frog, the, 68. 
Frotho, 293. 



G. 

GAEKWAR OF BARODA, 129. 

Gambarus, the, 244. 

Gazelle, the, 67. 

Geese, two-headed wild, 203. 

Gellius, or Gyllius, Aulus, 158, 
281, 302. 

Geryon, 64. 

Geskleithron, dwelling of one- 
eyed men, 8. 

Gesner, 52, 97, 127, 179, 203, 
212, 217,226, 228,229, 231, 
233,236,244, 256, 262, 269, 
35 3o6, 312, 331. 

Getulian Dog, the, 150, 151. 

Giants, 13, 16, 17, 32 ; their 
stupidity, 33 ; their sobriety, 
33 ; Starchaterus Thavestus, 
33. 34, 35> 3 6 > Giants men- 
tioned in the Bible, 36 ; 
height of Adam, &c., 37 ; 
Gabbaras, 37 ; Posio and 
Secundilla, 37 ; Sir John 
Mandeviltes giants, 37, 38. 

Gibson, Edmund, 177. 

Giraldus Cambrensis, 77, 174, 

175- 

Gisbertus Germanus, 227, 228. 
Gizdhubar, 78, 79, 80. 
Glutton, the. See Gulo. 
Goat, the, 128, 136. 
Goblerus, Justinus, 306. 
Gorgon, the, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87. 
Gorgon blepen, sharp-sighted 

persons, 86. 

Gould, Rev. S. Baring, 141. 
Grevinus, 302. 

Griffins, 8, 180, 181, 182, 183. 
Gryphons, 8, 9, 181. 
Guenon, the. See Haut. 
Guillim, 89, 189. 
Gulielmus Musicus, 305. 
Gulo, the, 101, 102, 103, 104, 

105. 
Guy, Earl of Warwick, 157. 



INDEX. 



Gymnetoe, who live a hundred 
years, 16. 

H. 

HAAFISCH, the. See Dog-fish. 
Haarwal, the. See Whale, 

Hairy. 

Hakluyt, 237, 245. 
Halcyon, the, 199, 200. 
Hanno, 86. 

Harald, King, 307, 308. 
Hare, the, 68, 128. 
Harmona, 64. 
Harpe, the, a falcon, 70. 
Harpy, the, 171, 172. 
Hauser, Caspar, a wild man, 

45- 

Haut or Hauti, the, 66, 67. 

Hawkins, Thos., 301, 302. 

Hea, 79, 206, 207, 208, 209. 

Hea-bani, 79, 80. 

Hedgehog, the, 69, in, 128. 

Hegesidemus, 243. 

Helcus, the. See Sea Calf. 

Helen, 286. 

Helladice, 208. 

Hens, Woolly, 202. 

Hentzner, Paul, 93. 

Hermias, 243. 

Herodotus, 8, 21, 23, 39, 140, 
160, 226. 

Heron, the,' 70. 

Hesiodus, 85. 

Hippocentaur, the, 59. 

Hippopotamus, the, 161, 312. 

Hirpi, or Falisci, a tribe un- 
harmed by fire, \2. 

Hollerius, 331. 

Homer, 75. 

Hoopoe, the, 196. 

Hornet, the 333, 334. 

Horse, the, 112, 138, 146, 147, 
148, 149, 150. 

Horstius, 227. 

Hyaena, the, 74, 132. 



Hydra, 64, 291, 292. 
Hydrophobia, 152, 153. 



IBIS, the, 1 6 1. 

Ichneumon, the, 70, 202, 315, 
3i6. 

Ichthyo Centaurus, the, 212. 

lerom, Saint, 59. 

Illyrii, a tribe having fascina- 
tion in their eyes, 12. 

Incubi, 60. 

India, Wonders of, 13. 

Isodorus, 100. 

Isogonus of Nicaea, 10, u, 12, 
15- 

Istar, 80. 



JAMES IV. and VI. of Scotland, 

88. 

Jeduah, the. See Lamb Tree. 
Jerff. See Gulo. 
Jocasta, 65. 
Jochanan, Rabbi, 166. 
Johnoen, Lars, 273. 
Jovius, Paulus, 237. 
Juba, 21. 
Jugurtha, 86. 

K. 

KHUMBABA, 79. 
King-fisher. See Halcyon. 
Kite, the, 69. 
Kjokkenmoddings, 41. 42, 43, 

44- 
Kraken, the, 244, 261,262,263, 

264, 265, 266, 292. 



LACUS INSANUS, 23. 

Laius, 65. 

Lake dwellings, 39, 40, 41. 



342 



INDEX. 



La Madelaine, Paleolithic re- 
mains at, 39. 

Lamb tree, the, 165, 166, 167, 
168, 169, 170. 

Lambri, Kingdom of, 5. 

Lambton Worme, the. See 
Dragons. 

Lamia, the, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78. 

Lane, Mr., 218. 

Langa, the, 225. 

Lapithae, 80. 

Lapwing, the, 196, 197. 

Lee, Henry, 165, 292. 

Leech, the, 329, 330. 

Leumius, Levinus, 320. 

Lenormant, M., 208. 

Leone, Giovanni, 198, 201. 

Leonine Monster, a, 227. 

Leontophonus, the, 158. 

Leontopithecus, the, 55. 

Leopard, the, 138. 

Leucrocotta, the (see also Man- 
ticora'), 159, 160. 

Leviathan, 218. 

Licetus, 173, 179. 

Licosthenes, 81, 146, 180. 

Lilith. See Lamia. 

Linton Worme, the. See Dra- 
gons. 

Lion, the, 71, 88, 156, 157, 

158, 159- 

Livingstone, Dr., 31. 
Livy, 9. 

Lizards, flying, 302. 
Lotophagi, Cattle of , 160. 
Loup-garou. See Were Wolf. 
Lucanus, 322. 
Lucretius, 157. 

Lycanthropy. See Were Wolf. 
Lycaon. See Were Wolf. 
Lynx, the, 129, 159. 

M. 

MACHLY^E, the tribe of, are 
androgynous, 1 1. 



Maclean, Rev. , 271. 

Macrobii, people who live four 
hundred years, 15, 16. 

M'Quhae, Capt., 274, 275, 276. 

Magalhaen, 190. 

Magnus, Olaus, 29, 33, 104, 
108, 127, 141, 176, 182. 
187, 188, 194, 214, 219, 
221, 223, 227, 231, 232, 
233, 2 36, 237, 241, 244, 
245, 251, 255, 256, 260, 
262, 264, 266, 269, 285, 

293. 329. 332. 
Manatee, 213. 
Mandeville, Sir John, 17, 21, 

25. 28, 37, 169, 175, 181, 

202, 249, 312, 318. 
Mandi, who live on locusts, 16. 
Mandragora, 112. 
Man-fish, 212, 213, 231. 
Mani. See Sponges. 
Manilius, Senator, 184. 
Manticora, the, 71, 72, 73, 74, 

159- 
Maphoon, a hairy woman, 49. 

5. 

Mappa Mundi, 7, 17. 
Marcellinus, 134. 
Marcellus, 131, 133, 134, 140, 

144, 174. 
Marco Polo, 5, 28, TOO, 182, 

249> 324, 325- 

Maricomorion, the. See Man- 
ticora. 

Marion, the. See Manticora. 

Marius, 86. 

Marsi, the tribe of, 1 1. 

Martlet, the, 189, 190. 

Mechovita, 102, 237. 

Megasthenes, 14, 15, 16. 

Meir, Rabbi, 167. 

Men, tailed, 4, 5, 17 ; one-eyed, 
8, 18 ; with legs reversed, 
9 ; with sea-green eyes, 10, 
1 5 ; with white hair, i o, 14, 
i 6 ; eat every other day, i o ; 



INDEX. 



343 



those whose touch cures the i 
stitig of serpents, i o ; saliva \ 
cures ditto, \ o ; testing the 
fidelity of wives by means of 
serpents, 1 1 ; possessing both 
sexes, ii ; families of en- 
chanters, 1 1 ; with the power 
of fascination in their eyes, 
1 2 ; with two pupils in each 
eye, 1 2 ; whose bodies will not 
sink in water, 1 2 ; whose per- 
spiration causes consumption, 
12 ; the glance of women with 
double ptipils in their eyes is 
noxious, 12 ; Indians never 
expectorate, and are subject to 
no pains, 13 ; Men eight feet 
high, 13, 1 6 ; with feet turned 
backwards, and eight toes, 14 ; 
with heads of dogs, 1 4 ; Women 
only pregnant once in their 
lives, 14, 1 6 ; Men with one 
leg, 14, 20 ; whose feet shade 
them from the sun, 14, 20; 
without necks, and eyes in 
their shoulders, 14, 19 ; large 
and small feet, 15 ; with holes 
in their faces instead of nos- 
trils, and flexible feet, 15 ; 
with no mouths, who subsist 
by smell, 15 ; who live 400 
years, 15 ; living on vipers, 
1 6 ; with no shadow, 16 ; live 
to i 50 yearsand never seem 
to get old, 1 6 ; who live 200 
years, 16 ; do not live over 
40 years, 16 ; who live on 
locusts, 1 6 ; Women bear chil- 
dren at seven years of age, 

1 6 ; Women conceive at five 
years of age and die in their 
eighth year, 17 ; Men with 
ears which cover their bodies, 

17 ; twelve feet high, 17 ; live 
on baboon's milk, 17 ; green 
and yellow, 18 : Men eating 



each other, 18 ; without eyes 
or nose, 19 ; with mouths in 
their shoulders, 19 ; cover 
their faces with their lips, \ 9 ; 
Dwarfs with no mouth, 19 ; 
with ears to their shoulders, 
19 ; with horses' feet, 19 ; go 
on all fours, 19 ; go on their 
knees, 19 ; live by the smell of 
wild apples, 19 ; covered with 
feathers, 20 ; Elephant-headed 
men, 20 ; feed on serpents and 
lizards, 21 ; Amazons, 23, 24, 
25, 26 ; Pygmies, 26 ; their 
height, 28 ; Early men, 38 ; 
their skulls, 38 ; the Stone 
Age^ 38 ; Bronze and Iron 
dges, 39 ; Paleolithic re- 
mains in caves, 39 ; the Lake 
men, 39 ; early mention of 
them, 39 ; their food, 41 ; 
Kitchen middens, 41 ; their 
wide range, 41 ; Shell-fish 
middens in Tierra del Fuego, 
42, 43 ; Danish middens, 
44 ; Wild men, 41 ; Ancient 
Britons, 46, 47 ; hairy men, 
47, 49, 50, 51 ; Julia Pas- 
trana, 47 ; Puella pilosa of 
Aldrovandus, 47, 48 ; Hairy 
people at Ava, 49, 50 ; the 
Amos of Japan, 50, 51 ; Moon 
Woman, 180. 

Menippus, 74, 75, 76, 152. 

Menismini, who live on baboon's 
milk, 17. 

Mentor, 158. 

Mercuriall, 320. 

Mermen and Mermaids, 209, 

210, 211, 212, 213, 214. 

Meryx, the, 253. 

Midas, 58. 

Milo, Titus Annius, 251. 

Milroy, General, 30. 

Milton, 8, 218. 

Mimick Dog, the, 150, 151. 



344 



INDEX. 



Mirage, 17. 

Moa, the, 181, 183. 

Mole, the, 68. 

Monboddo, Lord, 5. 

Monk-fish, the, 228, 229. 

Monoceros. See Unicorn, also 

Narwhal. 
Monocoli, people having but one 

leg, 14. 

Monster, a, 173. 
Moon Woman, 180. 
Mormolicse. See Lamia. 
Morse, the. See Walrus. 
Moses Chusensis, 166. 
Mucianus, 253. 
Muenster, Sebastian, 177. 
Murex, the, 253, 254. 
Musculus, the, 226. 
Myrepsus, 132, 134. 

N. 

NARWHAL, the, 244, 245. 

Nasomenes, the tribe o/, J i. 

Nebuchadnezzar, 78. 

Nemaean Lion, 64. 

Nereids, 210. 

Niam Niams, 5. 

Nicander, 302. 

Nisus, the, 70. 

Nymphae, a name for Satyrs, 

57- 
Nymphodorus, n. 

O. 

CANNES, or Hea, 206, 207, 

208, 209. 

Obadja, Rabbi, 167. 
Octopus. See Kraken. 
Odoricus, Friar, 170, 175. 
(Edipus, 64, 65. 
Olaus Magnus. See Magnus, O. 
Onisecritus, 16. 
Onocentaur, the, 56, 83. 
Uphiogenes, 10. 



Oppianus, 99, 119. 
Orca, the, 239, 240, 241. 
Osborne, the Royal Yacht, 276, 

277- 
Ostridge or Estridge, 148, 197, 

198. 

Ouran Outan, the, 51, 52. 
Ourani Outanis, 4. 
Ovid, 140. 
Owl, the, 70. 
Oxen and Wolves, 137, 138. 

P. 

PAN, the, a satyr, 55, 57. 

Pan, the Sea, 212. 

Pandore, live two hundred years, 
1 6. 

Panther, the, 162. 

Paradise, Birds of, 190, 191. 

Parkinson, John, 168. 

Pastrana, Julia, a hairy woman, 
47- 

Pausanias, 65. 

Pelican, the, 200, 201. 

Pegasus, the, 159. 

Pergannes, 16. 

Peter, the wild boy, 45. 

Peter Martyr, 4. 

Petronius, 140. 

Phalangium, the, 68, 70, 161. 

Pharnaces, a tribe whose per- 
spiration causes consump- 
tion, 12. 

Philostratus, 58. 

Phoenix, the, 183, 184, 185, 
1 86. 

Pholus, the Centaur, 80. 

Phylarcus, 12. 

Physeter, the, 215, 216, 217. 

Pierius, 302. 

Pitan, a tribe living on the sinc/l 
of wild apples, 19. 

Pithocaris, 139. 

Plato, 194. 
; Plesiosaurus, the, 300, 301. 



INDEX. 



345 



Pliny, 5, 7, 8, 9, 17, 21, 22, 
2 3, 26, 27, 53. 57, 67, 72, 
81, 86, 87, 88, 105, 124, 
I2 7, I3 1 ) 133) X 4, 148, 
158, 161, 183, 193, 198, 
199, 204, 210, 239, 242, 
2 5 T 253, 256, 264, 267, 
285, 286, 287, 288, 306, 
313, 318, 324, 327, 329, 

33, 332- 

Plutarch, 151, 281. 
Polydamna, 286. 
Polypus, the. See Kraken. 
Poaeius, Paulus, 95. 
Pomponius, Mela, 140. 
Pontoppidan, Erik, 261, 270. 
Ponzettus, 154. 
Pope, Alex., 26. 
Postdenius, 282. 
Prister, the, 215, 220. 
Psylli, a race whose saliva 

cures the sting of serpents, 10. 
Pterodactyl, the, 302. 
Ptolemy, 5. 
Ptolemy, King, 151. 
Purchas, his Pilgrimage, 29, 

177. 

Pygmies. See Dwarfs. 
Pygmaeogeranomachia, a poem 

on the battle between the 

Pygmies and the Cranes, 26. 
Pyrallis, the, 70. See also 

Salamander. 

Pyrausta. See Salamander. 
Pyrrhus, King. His right great 

toe cured diseases of the spleen, 



R. 

RABBIT, the, 68. 

Rasis, 156. 

Raven, the, 69, 70, 163. 

Ravenna, Monster at, 173, 174. 

Ravisius, Textor, 180. 

Ray, the, 255. 



Rayn, the, 197. 
Regnerus, 294, 295. 
Reineke Fuchs, 126. 
Remora, the, 253, 254. 
Rhinoceros, 89, 97, 98, 99, 

100. 

Robinson, Phil, 129. 
Rodocanakis, 188, 189. 
Rondeletius, 227. 
Rosmarus, the. See Walrus. 
Rossamaka, the. See Gulo. 
Rue, Rukh, or Rok. See Griffin. 



SAHAB, the, 247. 
St. John, Mr., 5. 
Salamander, 323, 324, 325, 

326. 

Salusbury, John, 300. 
Sargon, 209, 268. 
Satyr, the, 14. 
Satyr, the classical, 53, 56, 57, 

58, 59> 60. 

Satyrs, 55, 56, 61, 62. 
Saw Fish, the, 239. 

Sax , 33> 34. 177. 
Scaliger, 131, 317, 321. 
Scarus, the, 253. 
Schilt-bergerus, 284. 
Sciapodae, men whose feet shade 

them from the sun, 14. 
Scirti, a name for Satyrs, 57. 
Scorpion, the, 69, 330, 331, 

332. 

Scott, Sir Walter, 270, 271. 
Scyritae, a tribe in India with 

holes in their faces instead of 

nostrils, and flexible feet, 15. 
Sea Animals, various, 231. 
Sea Calves, 116, 232, 233. 
Sea- Cow, the, 232. 
Sea Demon, 212. 
Sea Dragon, the, 256. 
Sea Hare, 132, 234. 
Sea-Horse, the, 233, 234. 



346 



INDEX. 



Seamew, the, 70. 

Sea-Mouse, the, 234. 

Sea-Nettle, the, 259, 260. 

Sea-Pig, the, 235. 

Sea Rhinoceros, the. See Nar- 
whal. 

Sea Satyr, 212. 

Sea Serpent, the, 268, 269, 270, 
271, 272,273,274,275,276, 
277. 

Sea Unicorn, the. See Narwhal. 

Seal, the. See Sea Calves. 

Segonius, 321. 

Seneca, 313. 

Sennacherib, 209. 

Seras, who live four hundred 
years, 15. 

Serpeda de Aqua, 291. 

Serpents, bite of, cured by men's 
saliva, 10 ; ditto by odour of 
men, 1 1 ; test of fidelity of 
wives, 1 1 ; destroy strangers, 
69 ; war with Weasels and 
Swine, 7 o ; killed by Spiders, 
71; and Cats, 154,155, 156; 
and Mice, 156 ; and Lions, 
156; cure for bite of, 1 6 1 ; 
take medicine, 162 ; the In- 
dian,akind of whale, 226,227; 
and Crabs, 267, 268; charm- 
ing tJiem, 278, 279 ; their 
loves, 280, 281; talking, 
281; size, 281, 282; their 
coldness, 283, 284 ; pugna- 
city, 284, 285 ; their antipa- 
thies, 285, 286, 287 ; as 
medicine, 288, 289. 

Servius, 171. 

Sextus, 134, 138. 

Shrew mouse, the, 68, 70. 

Shu-Maon, a hairy man, 49. 

Sicinnis, Sicinnistae, a name for 
Satyrs, 57. 

Sidetes, 140. 

Sileni, a name for Satyrs, 56, 5 7. 

Simeon, Rabbi, 166, 167, 168. 



Simia Satyrus, the, 52, 53, 54, 

56. 

Simiinae, the, 51. 
Simocatus, 286. 
Sindbad the Sailor, 218. 
Siren, the, 172, 173. 
Sluper, John, 7, 45, 65, 229. 
Snow Birds, 191, 192, 193. 
Solinus, 58, 313. 
Solyman, Sultan, 96. 
Somerville, Sir John, 298, 299, 

300. 

Sow, 135, 136. 
Spenser, 88, 158, 312. 
Spermaceti Whale, the, 222. 
Sphyngium, the, 53. 
Sphynx or Sphynga, 61, 62, 

63, 64, 65, 159. 
Spider, the, 69, 70, 71. 
Sponges, 260, 261. 
Spratt, 171. 
Stag, the, 68, 69, 163. 
Stanley, H. M., 31, 32. 
Starchaterus Thavestus, a giant, 

33> 34, 35- 
Steingo, a name for a Gorgon, 

85- 

Stheno, 85. 

Sting-ray, the, 256, 257. 
Stork, the, 162, 200, 201. 
Stow, John, 231. 
Strabo, 314. 
Struthpodes, a tribe with small 

feet, 15. 
Stumpsius, 308. 
Su, the, 163, 164, 165. 
Suidas, 65, 146. 
Swallow, the, 161, 186, 187, 

1 88, 189. 

Swamfisck, the, 245, 246, 247. 
Swan, the, 69, 193, 194. 
Swine, 70, 148, 156. 
Swordfish, the, 238, 239. 
Sylla, 58. 
Syrbotas, men twelve feet high, 



INDEX. 



347 



T. 

TANTALUS apples, 75. 
Tauron, 15. 
Ta vernier, 191. 
Tennent, Sir J. E., 213. 
Teufelwal, the. See Trol Whale. 
Thenestus, 163. 
Theophrastus, 106, 118, 119. 
Thibii, a tribe having two pupils 

to each eye, 12. 
Thos, the, 71. 

Thresher- Whale, the. See Orca. 
Tiles, shower of baked, 251. 
Toad, the, 326, 327, 328. 
Topazos, a beautiful stone, 21, 

22. 

Topsell, Edward, 53, 55, 66, 
74, 83, 91, 92, 94, 97, 99, 
104, 127, 131, 145, 146, 
154, 163, 270, 278, 282, 
288, 289, 291, 302, 306, 
308, 312, 313, 317, 325, 
326, 327, 331. 

Tortoise, the, 161. 

Traconyt, a beautiful stone, 21. 

Tragi. See Sponges. 

Tranquillus, 147. 

Trebius, the, 252. 

Trebius Niger, 254, 264, 266. 

Triballi, a tribe having the 
power of fascination with 
their eyes, 12. 

Triorchis, the, a hawk, 70. 

Trispithami, a race three spans 
high, 27. 

Trithemius, 144. 

Tritons, 65, 210. 

Trochilus, the, 70, 201, 202. 

Troglodytae, dwellers in caves, 
1 4 ; their swiftness, 1 7 ; their 
remains, 20 ; feed on serpents 
and lizards, 21 ; their com- 
merce, 22. 

Trol Whale, the, 217. 

Trygon, the. See Sting-ray. 



Turtles, horned, 23. 
Turtle-dove, the, 70. 
Tytiri, a name for Satyrs, 56. 
Tzetzes, 93. 

U. 

UNICORN, the, 74, 87, 88, 89, 
90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 
97. See also Rhinoceros. 

Urchin, the, 128. 



VALENTYN, 213. 
Varinus, 64. 
Varro, 10. 

Versipellis. See Were Wolves. 
Vespasian, 151. 
Vielfras, the. See Gulo. 
Villanonanus, Arnoldus, 287. 
Vipers, flesh of, causing lon- 
gevity, 1 6. 
Virgil, 140. 
Vishnu, 209. 
Volateran, 282. 

W. 

WALLACE, A. R., 52. 
Walrus, the, 235, 236, 237, 

238. 
Wantley, Dragon of. See 

Dragons. 
Wasp, the, 70. 
Weasel, the, 68, 70, 163. 
Webbe, Edward, 250. 
Webber, Romance of Natural 

History, 30. 
Were Wolves, 140, 141, 142, 

143, X 44- 
Whale, the, 214, 215, 216, 217, 

2l8, 219, 220, 221, 222, 

223, 224, 225, 226, 227. 

Whale, the hairy, 226. 
Whaup, the. See Lapwing. 



348 



INDEX. 



Whirlpool, the, 215, 220. 
Williams, Edward, 189. 
Woodcock, the, 69. 
Wolf, the, 68, 131, 134, 135. 

136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 

148. 

Wolff, G. E., 31. 
Wolverine, the. See Gulo. 
Wood, E. J., book on Giants 

and Dwarfs, 29. 
Wood, W. Martin, 50. 
" Wormes." See Dragons. 

X. 

XENOPHON, 86. 



V. 



YOULE, Captain HENRY, 49. 



ZAHN, JOANNES, 4, 144, 165, 

173, 248. 
Zaidu, 79. 
Zebra, 146, 147. 
Ziphius, the, 238, 239. 
Zoophytes, 259, 260. 



THE END. 



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